Rugby renovation project
THE prospect of another renovation job on Coffs Rugby holds no fears for coaching director Paul Butcher.
It's something he did after taking the reins from Des Hoy at the beginning of 2005 and in spite of all the changes, the team still managed to stretch it's unbeaten run to a third season.
"The situation was similar when Des had control," Butcher explained.
"Each year he was virtually starting from scratch, but look what he achieved?
"Now it's my turn being in the same boat."
But there's a tone in Butcher's voice suggesting this may be the hardest rebuild of all as he ticks off the names and faces unavailable for the challenge ahead.
"Nic Joyce, Craig Landrigan, Paul Gooley, Hugh Campbell, Brendan Hoy and Matt Timmins won't be available after they were integral to the last premiership side," he said.
Those six names mentioned formed more than a third of what was an extraordinary combination but on the credit side, Butcher is finding new pieces to fit together in a winning puzzle.
"We have a second row forward moving up from Bathurst and a pivot coming from the Hamilton in the Newcastle competition.
"And, don't underestimate the blokes in second grade last season who were held out by those up top.
"Other clubs would kill to be able to call them up to first grade."
Despite losing key members from the playing roster, Butcher has one more ace up his sleeve.
"The culture in the club," he said.
"Last year's forward pack was the best from our winning streak and the attitude and skill base will linger, even if a few of the faces change."
Butcher is amused by late-2005 calls from certain rival clubs to have Coffs Rugby pushed into a different competition, for being 'too good.'
"Everyone is entitled to an opinion," he said.
"The people saying we should go to Far North Coast believe it would be in the best interests of the game, so I can't knock them for that.
"Every wheel turns and the day will arrive when we won't be on top and they will."
While the distances travelled by the lower order clubs may be the real crux of the problem, Butcher feels travel worries may affect officials more than players.
"We have a great time on tour," he laughs, "and the visiting players have just as good a time when they come to our place."
Season training is at Jetty Beach before moving to Rugby Park on January 31.
The club's first outing under colours will be the Crescent Head Sevens on February 18 followed by trials against Woy Woy (March 11), Hamilton and Kempsey (March 18) before the annual hit out against Grafton Redmen at Rugby Park on a date to be confirmed.
The competition proper begins on April 22 when Coffs host Kempsey Cannonballs.