Tamworth Magpies coach Peter Burke looks back on 2018 NERU season

LEADER: James Bracken captained Tamworth in their final match of the season. "He's an extremely valuable member of the team and I think one of the only first graders to play every game this year," Burke said of the flanker.
LEADER: James Bracken captained Tamworth in their final match of the season. "He's an extremely valuable member of the team and I think one of the only first graders to play every game this year," Burke said of the flanker.

When looking back on the 2018 season – Tamworth’s first in New England Rugby Union – Magpies coach Peter Burke feels a sense of pride above everything else.

“We’ve made massive moves forward as a team and massive moves as a club,” Burke said.

“We came into a completely new competition not knowing where we’d fit with our style of play, talent or as a club.

“We had to adjust to the way New England rugby play, the way it’s refereed and I think the boys have really done that well.”

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The Magpies’ first season in the NERU first grade competition came to an end on Saturday despite knocking over the ladder leading Armidale Blues 22-21.

They fell three points outside the top four following a slow start to the season and went into Saturday’s clash needing to win and for Albies to go down.

“The goal yesterday [Saturday] was to win away from home against the minor premiers,” Burke said.

“To secure that – yes, the result was bittersweet but we’re able to hold our heads high. Three times in the competition we were able to knock over the ladder leaders.”

As far as 2019 goes, Burke said there was plenty of work to be done but the signs pointed to improvement in the new year.

“We’re nowhere near playing to our potential,” Burke said.

“We have a long way to grow and I think, this year, the building blocks have been put there to enable the club to grow. Whether or not I’m coaching or whether there’s somebody else with more skills to take the club further, it’s been a very successful year in that manner.

“The boys are a credit to that. They’ve really bought into the culture change, really bought into playing as a team and for one another and being honest with themselves.”

Burke was keen to coach again but would do whatever was best for the club.

“It’s all about the club, therefore if the committee believe there’s someone who can take them to the next step, with more coaching skills than I have then that person should take it on,” Burke said.

“My services and the team I coach with are ready to go and I think we can do a good job.”

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