Faces of Tamworth: Peter Burke

Peter Burke has worn many different hats at Tamworth Rugby Union Sporting Club over a journey that started as a teenager in the 1980’s. Passionate about the game, in more recent seasons the former prop and Life Member has been a common sight running up and down the sideline, or whistle in hand out in the middle. He has always though carried a desire to go back and coach “at the club I love”, one he is fulfilling after taking the coaching reigns for the club’s foray into the New England competition. 

Back at the helm: Returning Tamworth coach Peter Burke said he always had a desire to go back and coach at the club. Photo: Peter Hardin

Back at the helm: Returning Tamworth coach Peter Burke said he always had a desire to go back and coach at the club. Photo: Peter Hardin

PETER Burke is an excited rugby union coach.

The 54-year-old former goalkicking prop, coach, referee and administrator is in charge of the Tamworth Rugby Union Sporting Club’s first grade side for its initial season in the New England competition.

And Burke cannot wait.

He started out as a junior with the club as a teenager back in 1980 and played his first game of first grade in 1983. He also played first grade in 2003. He’s coached first grade at different stages as well as been club president and is a life member.

He has also been president of Central North and refereed for more than a decade.

His rugby career also took a diversion out south and west where he also played and coached for the Harden Red Devils (1997-98) and the Moree Bulls (1989-94).

All wonderful memories and while he never won a premiership as a player or coach in first grade at Tamworth, Harden or Moree he did help them make grand finals.

2011 was his proudest moment though.

“I coached my son (Will) and the Tamworth under-16’s to a Central North premiership,” he said.

“We beat Narrabri in the Grand Final. They had beaten us by 50 points in the previous game. We won 11 in a row to win it.”

The following year he was elected president of Central North and continued with his refereeing, which he started in 1990 when he had injured a knee.

So his dedication to the game and especially his club, Tamworth, is and has been immense.

This year he started a new job as branch manager of Trend Windows and has a staff of around 30 to muster. Adding the head coaching job as well makes him a rather busy man.

It also makes him determined to make Tamworth as good as they can be, on and off the field.

“I have always had a desire to go back and coach (at Tamworth),” he said.

“Just didn’t know if that would occur. It’s the club I love and I thought they needed some help. After a lot of hard work in the pre-season it’s coming together well. I am excited because we have a great bunch of young men here. A lot of new faces with a great attitude. There is a great feeling here from the president (Mitchel Hanlon) right through to all the players.

“We’re going up there (New England) with a clean sheet. We have got the talent and we can make our own history.”

He said the arrival of new players such number eight Rob Creighton, a representative player from Western Plains, Dan Onus, Tim Bailey and Matt White, with his Canberra experience, size and strength, will fortify the Magpie pack.

White though could be out for a while after injuring his knee in their recent trial win over Coonamble. Their final hit-out it was their second trial win after beating Barbarians earlier in their preparation.

Burke said winning both trials was good but “not a lot should be taken from that”.

“We’ve still got a lot of work to do and the real concern is that they have played poorly in the past and are worried about winning,” he said.

He is hoping his new coaching approach will help them all “show their talent”.

The Magpies are still to taste a victory this season but have been more than competitive, losing their last two games by three points or less.

Originally published in the Northern Daily Leader April 4, 2018

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