Roosters stick with Batten
By GREG WGITE
AFTER finding his team on the brink of the semi-finals so many times without crossing the threshold, Geoff Batten has unfinished business at Nambucca Heads.
The Roosters' evergreen backline star has been re-appointed head coach and believes he's in a better position to launch a challenge than he was at the beginning of 2006.
"My head wasn't completely around the job at the start because I was called in at the last minute," Batten admitted.
"Going from player one day to coach the next, takes some adjustment.
"We were only getting our momentum going in the middle of the second round when a couple of things went wrong that hurt us badly."
Batten believes this new season will be the one when the Roosters undoubted potential bursts into flower.
"Since our last game all I've been thinking about is football," he said.
"The young blokes last year had great ability but were very inexperienced and it showed at crucial times.
"Towards the end some things happened to toughen them up and for the first time they began thinking about what was going on around them.
"It's all part of the process of creating mature footballers who will perform like veterans."
At his disposal will be another fresh crop of talented graduates from the under-18 production line and the steadying influence of another ageless champion.
"Dean Urquart will play on," Batten said enthusiastically.
"Great player and somebody everyone looks up to.
"We all can learn from what he brings to the game."
While losing Kale Burton to the NRL will be a blow, Batten has a ready-made replacement.
"Matt Cartwright was plagued by injury and only played five games but now he's fit and raring to go," the coach said.
"Watching Kale do what he did has got Matt full of enthusiasm to step up as our number one prop forward."
With Mark Davidson already signed, Batten will comb the ranks of his troops to put a "real contender" on the paddock.
"This is it," he said.
"After knocking on the door for so long it's time to burst through."
Batten brings to six the number of Group 2 coaching appointments with just four remaining for ratification.