New Tamworth coach Andrew Jack has hit the ground running.
Jack has taken over the first grade reigns from Peter Burke, who has been at the helm since the club joined the New England competition back in 2018.
It was somewhat of a natural progression with Jack coaching second grade the two last years.
"An opportunity came along and I took it," he said.
He is no stranger to the rigors of coaching first grade, having previously coached at Walcha and clubs "down south".
He then had a couple of years off before being "dragged back into the fold" and steering the Magpies to the 2020 New England second grade premiership.
The Magpies are well into their pre-season after starting late last year.
"That was brought on by the team, they wanted to train off-season and we had good numbers for that for both the men and the women," Jack said.
It was the first time the club has started pre-season that early (for a long time at least), and Jack said they "didn't muck around".
"They were pushed," he said.
They have been back now from the Christmas/New Year break for a few weeks.
Jack said players are slowly starting to filter back through, COVID, not unexpectedly, taking a bit of a toll.
It's a bit of a week-by-week case as to who is there.
Fitness has been a big focus, being crucial to Jack's vision of the style he wants to play.
"We want to go back to the olden days of running rugby, ball in hand," he said.
"We're playing in a young competition. You can't out run them, you've got to be smart about your rugby."
Rule changes around the breakdown and some amendments to some of the kicking rules, will also, Jack predicts, make the game a lot faster, which means that "you will have to be fitter".
"I know what I want to do, it's just a case of putting it together and hopefully we'll have the cattle on the paddock to see it done," he said.
The players are buying into it.
"The team's got an air about them, they want to have a crack, they know what they want to do," Jack said.
He has a couple of trial games in the pipeline, and while it is still early days said there are a few second graders that he believes have the potential, and he is looking at, to step up to first grade.
"There's a few there; they don't know it yet," he said.
Training is Tuesday and Thursday at 6.30pm. Anyone is welcome but must be double vaccinated.
With Jack stepping up to first grade, Damian Henry and Phil Cook will take over second grade.
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