He proudly represented NSW in the State of Origin arena and now former Inverell native Phil Bailey is pulling on the sky blue again - only in a different code.
The former Cronulla, NSW and Australian backrower has joined the NSW Waratahs as defence coach, replacing Steve Tandy after the Welshman's move to Scotland in late-2019.
Boasting a decorated playing career in the 13-man game, including three State of Origin appearances and four Tests for the Kangaroos, post-retirement the former Inverell Hawks junior has cut his teeth as a rugby union coach, firstly with the New York Athletic Club and then the US men's national team.
He won the US Club Championship with the Athletic Club and was part of the Eagles' management for the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
Following his time in the US, Bailey took up a role with Hong Kong Football Club where he served as head coach for two seasons - turning the struggling club into competition leaders before his departure in 2018.
More recently, he has worked within NSW Rugby League's development pathway.
He said the opportunity to make a return to the game where he started his coaching career was an exciting one.
"I started my coaching career over in the US and absolutely loved my time both there and in Hong Kong, but to now continue that journey in Australia and be a part of an organisation like the [NSW] Waratahs is great," Bailey said.
"The conversations I've had with Rob (Penney) and the wider coaching staff have been really positive, we share similar philosophies on the game and their commitment to developing young players is something that's been a big part of my coaching career to date.
"There's a great platform there to work from defensively and I'm looking forward to contributing to the foundation that's been built over the last few months."
Bailey's arrival has brought with it a clear focus on bringing big hits and dominant defence.
"We are looking for more dominant tackles this year, being a more aggressive Waratahs side and taking the ascendancy to our opposition," he said.
With aims of developing an established positive mindset around the art of tackling, Bailey is hoping to use his experience in both rugby league and rugby union to strengthen the way the team defends in 2020.
"Here [rugby union] the guys do defence fantastically, but we just want a little bit more focus on individual technique and different styles [of tackling]," he said.