New-look Mustangs promise big 2009
NEW year, new coach, new goals - that's the message for Murwillumbah Mustangs supporters as the club prepares for the 2009 season.
After a year which saw the club go through a major rebuilding phase, the Mustangs are looking towards a much-improved result in the Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League competition.
The man the club is banking on is new A-grade coach Brad Purtell, who has already managed to secure several new signings who will add both depth and guidance to the club.
Coming from Far North Queensland, where he spent the past two years with premiership-winning club Brothers, Purtell knows there is a lot of expectation on him, particularly in a one-team town like Murwillumbah.
“Last year the Mustangs had a very young side with a lot of players coming up from lower grades to fill the gaps created when a lot of senior players left,” Purtell said.
“The club may have struggled but was always competitive, and you still had a lot of support for them despite not being able to post the results on the board.
“It only takes a couple of wins and you have the town right behind you, and I believe we can do that this year.”
With a playing career that has included two years with Western Suburbs in Sydney, seasons playing with Cowra and then Cairns, Purtell has been able to entice some talented players he knows to come to the Tweed.
“I spoke with club president Brian Fletcher when I first took the job and we discussed where we thought the club needed bolstering,” he said.
“With his support we have been able to gain some key players in Dean Corrigan and Luke Burns both from Cowra, Pat Penny from Cairns and Englishman Steve Shaw and we will also gaining Richard Squires back from England to rejoin the club this season.
“We have retained a lot of players who were with us last year, and they will all be better players for their experience, and I think we will have a very well-balanced side.”
Purtell said with any club, it was important to develop a positive mental attitude and that came from taking a professional approach to the game, both in training and playing.
“I played with a very successful club in Cairns, having won one premiership and lost one, but there was a culture of success and it doesn't take much to build that,” Purtell said.
“We just need to get a positive start to the season and that begins with our trial matches.
“Our first will be against Bilambil on Saturday, March 7 here at Stan Sercombe Oval at night.
“We will then follow that up by taking on the Gold Coast premiers Southport, again here in Murwillumbah on Saturday, March 14.
“Those games should give us a good idea where we are headed.
“There's plenty of enthusiasm within the club and we have had good numbers to training since we started in January.
“I think realistically, if we set ourselves a goal of making the finals, that will be achievable.”