HE’S one of Armidale’s favourite sons but Dave Schmude’s allegiances will firmly lie with Robb College this season.
The former Armidale Blues star and captain is the students’ new head coach.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Schmude said.
Aside from the odd game in seconds and thirds, and a campaign coaching the zone side with Jason Lincoln a couple of seasons ago, Schmude hasn’t had a lot of involvement in the local competition recently.
He said the last time he was involved he captained the Blues to the 2008 premiership.
He’ll be working with a panel of coaches that includes Andrew Hall, Sam Ditchfield and Jim Boland.
They take over from Gordon Williams, who has done “a great job”.
“The guys I’m coaching with are a great group of guys,” he said.
All bring something different to the table.
“Those co-coaches will be handy with their experience and expertise,” Schmude said.
The Director of the Sport Business Development Unit at Sport UNE, Schmude said he’s always had a passion for coaching.
It’s just been a matter of timing and circumstance.
“It’s turned a few heads coming from the Armidale side of things,” he said.
But they’ve been really supportive.
He enjoyed a lot of success during his association with the club – first as Old Boys and then the Blues.
“I played in 14 grand finals and we won 11.
“We had a good run – Old Boys and Armidale,” he said.
“I was very fortunate to play with some great guys.”
Now a new challenge awaits and it’s one he, Ditchfield, Boland and Hall are excited about.
“We’re really excited by it,” Schmude said.
They’ll have the benefit of and access to some of the best facilities in the competition.
“We’ll have the support of the UNE Exercise and Sports Science department,” he said.
They’re just about to open a million-dollar facility, which Robb will be utilising.
Robb had a pretty good season last year and was only a couple of points off making the grand final.
Schmude though didn’t see a lot of them play and goes in with no preconceptions.
“I’m going in with fresh eyes,” he said.
“I don’t have any expectations of who plays where or who should be captain.”
He’s now playing a waiting game for the students’ return to uni.
They get back at the end of February. Then they’ll start looking at what they’ve got.
“Last year the pleasing thing was second grade, which is usually a year younger. They won the grand final,” he said.
“There are a few of those sticking around.”
He has a couple of other things occupying his time though this week, with the Parramatta Eels in town for a training camp and pre-season clash against Newcastle on Saturday night.