AFTER a finals appearance in his first year, Dave Kearsey is hoping to take Inverell even further this year.
The former skipper stepped into the coaching shoes last season and will take the job on again this year – older and wiser as they say.
The experience of last year would serve him well this year, he said.
“Last year was obviously my first year as coach,” he said.
“I definitely learnt a great deal. There’s a lot more to coaching than running the guys around at training.”
He admitted he probably made a few mistakes last year in his desire to win a premiership straight away.
“I feel I know what needs to be done this year,” he said.
“For a team to be competitive, to have a legitimate shot at the premiership, you need to be structured and organised.”
The Highlanders will officially start training in February but most of the guys have been doing some pre-season training, he said.
“We’re looking to go into our first game against Gunnedah 100 per cent fit and 100 per cent ready,” he said.
That will be an early test for the Highlanders. They’ve struggled a bit against the Red Devils at home and were beaten on their trip to Gunnedah last year.
“We’ll have a very similar side to last year, which is great for me,” Kearsey said.
“A lot of blokes last year it was the first time they’d been together on the field.”
It took them a while to gel but the jitters shouldn’t be there this year.
“It’s always tough when you get a new group of guys,” he said.
“Players need to trust each other and work for each other.”
Not making the grand final was a source of some disappointment after finishing minor premiers and having two cracks at making it.
“A bit of inexperience in finals football cost us in the end,” Kearsey said.
They’ll be better for that too.
Kearsey said the Highlanders will be attending the Armidale Knockout, and hopes to have a couple of other trial games.
One trial confirmed is on the Saturday afternoon of the Australian Deaf Rugby side’s visit in March.
They’ll be in Inverell for training and trial weekend.
There’ll be a few of the side that travelled to New Zealand last year but mainly the weekend will be for new players and players who can’t make it to some of the other trials.
The Highlanders will also be holding a ball on the Saturday night.
The black tie affair has been off the agenda for a few years but is making a return.