Orara Valley have named centre Matt Donovan as captain-coach for 2006.
Orara Valley have named centre Matt Donovan as captain-coach for 2006.

Axemen, Comets name coaches

By GREG WHITE

The final pieces of the Group 2 coaching puzzle fell into place when the Coffs Harbour and Orara Valley clubs made their first grade appointments on Tuesday night.

New South Wales Country coach Scott Mieni will return for his third stint at the helm of the Comets while 1998 premiership winner Matt Donovan will take over from nephew Brad Hart with the Axemen.

Coffs president Ian Trengove said he was stunned at the interest shown in the position.

"We were still receiving applications as late as last Friday and this was one of the reasons the decision took so long," he said.

"All up there were more than a dozen interested parties including one from the UK."

Donovan's engagement is seen as a coup for the Axemen after as many as five rivals clubs were known to have courted his services.

His individual role in the 1997 grand final win over Coffs Harbour is remembered as one of the landmark achievments in Group 2.

By the conclusion of that extra time decider, Donovan had five tries against his name.

Mieni is relishing the opportunity of a third term but says the club needs to be further advanced than in previous years.

"Gotta be on the front foot early," he said.

"During the off season I'll be looking around for players to fill certain gaps."

Donovan is also on the player merry-go-round to strengthen the Axemen.

"After losing the grand final we have unfinished business," Donovan said.

"If we'd won, I reckon I would have been one of many retirements.

"But the hunger is there and having Macksville in the position they are gives all of the clubs something to chase."

While no announcement has been made, Donovan is keen for Brad Hart to continue playing.

"He's an icon at the peak of his career," he said.

"Someone like Brad is very important."



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