Hard act to follow

By MITCHELL DALE

FOR a bloke entering only his second year of full-time coaching, new Coffs Rugby first grade mentor Paul Butcher will be stepping into some giant boots.

Butcher takes over from the club's inaugural coach Des Hoy, whose copy book was rarely blotted during two years in charge of the Coffs juggernaut.

Since Harlequins and Snappers merged at the end of 2002, Hoy coached Coffs Rugby to 33 wins from 35 matches with one draw and one loss.

In that time, the side completed the Arthur Tonkin Shield and Mid North Coast double twice and scored a staggering 1165 points while conceding just 184.

Butcher admitted Hoy would be a tough act to follow, but was already setting his sights on emulating his predecessor's undefeated season of 2003.

"It will be hard to follow, I don't know why Des didn't come back for another year and try for three premierships from three years," Butcher said.

"The side will be very strong

again this year as well as for some years to come.

"It's my first year of coaching first grade and I would love to go undefeated.

"I don't think we will be quite as strong as 2003, although they may prove me wrong."

The Arthur Tonkin Shield, an extended competition featuring Mid North Coast and New England clubs, has not been retained for 2005 but Butcher said there will still be plenty of strong competition for his side.

"Port Pirates will probably be our main threat again, although it depends on whether or not they bring over a couple of imports again," Butcher said.

"Both Port sides will be tough and Dorrigo are always tough.

"And you never know who Forster will have either, they are close to Newcastle so they could pick up any number of players from there."

While Butcher intends on sticking to the formulas that made Hoy's reign so successful, he will also be implementing some fresh ideas.

"I have a few ideas that I have picked up from blokes like (Wallabies forward coach) Ross Reynolds in the Australian Universities sides," he said.

"Hopefully the Wallabies will come along to training again as well, we learnt a lot from them last year, especially the forwards."

Last season, Butcher was very much a reluctant coach.

The talented loose forward, who twice represented Australian Universities, was on the mend after breaking his right arm in 2003 and only agreed to coach Coffs second grade when no one else put up their hand to do the job.

Fast forward 12 months and Butcher, his playing days now over after re-breaking the same arm last season, is throwing all his energy into coaching.

"At the start I would have preferred to be playing than coaching, but when I broke my arm again I realised I couldn't play anymore so I put 100 percent into coaching," he said.

"It was either coaching or refereeing and everyone I spoke to said to be a coach."



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