League legend to lead Raiders into new season
A RANDOM social media post seeking a coach to head the Tweed Coast Raiders' seniors side next season has landed them the jackpot.
NRL great Brent Kite, a veteran of 313 NRL games and a dual national after representing Australia and Tonga, will take on the role after his wife alerted him to the advert.
Debuting for the St George-Illawarra Dragons in 2002, Kite went on to win an NRL Premiership with Manly in 2008 - claiming the Clive Churchill Medal on the way - before playing his final two seasons with the Panthers before injury forced his retirement in 2015.
Leading his first training session at Les Burger fields this week, Kite said he was already impressed with the strong culture at Raiders.
"I was pretty impressed with the boys taking the initiative to get back together and get back in the A-grade,” he said.
"I thought that was a really good sign in terms of how motivated the guys are to learn and to improve.
"I just hope as a club we can build on that culture... I'd just like to put my own touch on what they have been doing well already and try and go one step better next year.”
Kite, who captained Tonga at the last World Cup in 2013, will fly to the Tweed each week for training sessions before moving his family up from Sydney in January.
"I'm not on Facebook but the wife saw the ad and we have been meaning to head up here post NRL, it was just finding a club to come and settle at,” he said.
For a club that doesn't pay its coaches or players, Raiders must be doing something right, with the likes of another former Origin great, Gary Belcher, volunteering his time in the junior ranks.
Club president Josh Sattler, who was in talks with several potential coaches before Kite put up his hand, said the club's culture was a major drawcard both on and off the field, with homeground crowds of 1500 not unusual.
"It's no secret we don't pay anyone,” Sattler said.
"We just want to make sure everyone is here for the right reasons.
"Rugby league is what you make of it but you have to tip into it. We have got the investment with someone like Brent on board.
"He is willing to tip in 313 games in NRL and pass that experience on to these guys who are here for nothing because they love playing the game.”
While players are not paid, they are looked after with sponsorship covering top insurance coverage, equipment and registration.
Plans are also afoot to expand the club with funding for a new high-performance centre expected ahead of next season, as well as the introduction of a new youth mental health awareness program.