HE'S enjoyed much acclaim in the junior arena.
Now, Paul Benkovic is hoping to replicate that feat at senior level after taking the reins of the Denman Devils first grade outfit for the 2020 Bengalla Hunter Valley Group 21 Rugby League season.
Despite its best efforts, the club failed to make its mark this year, finishing fourth in the compressed four-team competition.
But, the new mentor doesn't see that result as a negative, stating he's very positive about what lies ahead.
"I believe injuries cruelled the Devils a fair bit in 2019," Benkovic said.
"I'm sure it'll be a different story [next season].
"However, we're not there to make up numbers either.
"We'll be competitive in a six-team format.
"So, I'm calling on all past players, and their families, to throw their support behind the Devils, especially at home games.
"We need to bring the Denman spirit back."
Although Benkovic's achievements are well-known throughout the Muswellbrook Rams fraternity, guiding the under-18s to successive premierships in 2016 and 2017, he also boasts strong ties to the Devils.
"My grandfather played here, I took the field for Denman in 1985 and 1986 - making the semis on both occasions - and my son Brady represented them this year," he said.
"It's a fantastic community, with a loyal rugby league base.
"Coaching here feels right.
"My appointment also gives Adam Grech a chance to concentrate on his game without the added distractions.
"He'll still play a major role, as will Ben Hagan and Joey Griffiths.
"Their experience is second-to-none.
"And, our kids can benefit from that.
"I'm keen for Denman's youngsters [from 2016 and 2017] to return to the club.
"It'll be good to have a hands-on role on Brady's development (and not chewing his ear off), too, along with Isaac McCormick and Tommy Mann.
"In fact, anyone who comes here will get an opportunity to show what they've got.
"I just want guys with the right attitude."
Benkovic won't be alone on his journey, with Jackson Ball and Dan Hagan overseeing the reserves and under-18s respectively.
A new-look executive completes the picture.
"I'm excited by our prospects - there is a terrific group of people around the club," he said.
"We have a good committee on deck, while Jay Shepherdson will be helping me out as well.
"It's great to have Jacko [Ball] on board, too; and Dan's a major asset for the juniors.
'We'll work well together.
"While shiftwork plays a role [these days], depth is the key to success for all Group 21 clubs.
"And, even though we lost a couple of blokes from 2019, the nucleus remains.
"I'm looking forward to 2020."
The Devils will hit the training paddock on Tuesday, January 14, from 6pm.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.