THE Gunnedah Bulldogs have appointed a new head coach for the 2020 Group 4 season.
Mick Schmiedel has been chosen to lead the Dogs after John Hickey opted to stand down from the role at the end of the 2019 season.
A veteran of the Group 4 coaching scene, Schmiedel has plied his trade at several clubs during his near 30-year tenure, including Dungowan, Tamworth City, Collegian Warriors and North Tamworth.
Bulldogs president David McCann said Schmiedel would make a fine addition to the club.
"The committee had a meeting the other night and agreed that Mick would take us forward next season," McCann said.
"It's pretty exciting and we look forward to seeing what Mick can bring to our club."
Schmiedel said he was eager to bring his years of experience to the Bulldogs.
"I was pretty excited to be successful in getting the Gunnedah role, because I think it will be something a bit different," Schmiedel said.
"Since I first arrived in the region in 1992, I have been heavily involved with local footy and I wanted to keep that going.
"Gunnedah is a great club with some really exciting, talented players and I look forward to trying to get the most out of them."
Despite not having coached at first-grade level since 2017, Schmiedel said he hadn't ventured too far from the coaching ranks.
"More recently I have been pretty heavily involved in the Greater Northern Tigers women's tackle and junior representative sides," he said.
"From that perspective, I haven't really moved away from coaching and I'm really excited to get back to the senior ranks at Gunnedah."
The Bulldogs have enjoyed finals success in recent years, making the minor semi-final this season under Hickey, after losing the 2018 decider with previous coach Sean Hayne.
"I have a lot of respect for both John and Sean, and I understand I have big shoes to fill," Schmiedel said.
"Gunnedah is a rugby league-mad community; as an outsider I understand it is going to be a little bit difficult at first for me to fit into that community.
"However, I'm hopeful we can begin to build some momentum quickly and have the community really get behind the club."
Schmiedel said he would not actively recruit players from other clubs to join the Bulldogs' playing ranks during the off season.
"I won't be looking to poach any players from other clubs because, to me, that's not a good way to make our competition stronger," he said.
"Personally, I think there is enough talent at Gunnedah already and my focus will be on getting the best out of them.
"I think taking players from other clubs hurts the competition as a whole, and if you are to win the competition you want to be beating the best.
"Having said that, if any players want to come off their own bat then that's up to them, but I won't be actively recruiting players from other clubs."
A fitness instructor by trade, Schmiedel said he would be focusing on the side's fitness during the off season.
"In my opinion, if you are fit you give yourself the best chance to succeed," he said.
"If we are beaten in a game, I want to be able to say it was either because we were out-played or out-coached, not because we weren't fit enough."