Denham earns national job
TWO decades after serving as a member of the Australian Schoolboys rugby league team, the wheel has come full circle for Bellingen High School teacher Peter Denham.
The former star player and current senior Group 2 representative coach has been put in charge of the national schoolboys team after being “one of the lads” in the 1990 squad.
“It’s a fantastic thing, I’m very proud of being chosen and I know my dad (Bill) is especially happy about the appointment,” Denham said.
“At the same time, it’s a very daunting prospect as there is a lot of pressure involved in the job.
“Since the first team was selected in the early 1970s they have had huge success.
“Yes, I know the last team copped a few hidings overseas because they were playing in snow but I’m very positive about this and it will be a great adventure.”
That 1990 squad was initially a merit team but eventually played one game against the Australian Youth Development Squad, winning 38-6.
Playing alongside Denham were young men the calibre of future Wallaby superstar Tim Horan, NRL recruits Rodney Howe, Glenn Grief and Josh Stuart as well as sporting media personality Jimmy Smith.
While studying and after graduation, Denham played in Group 6 and with Illawarra before coming home to Bellingen where he became an integral cog in the Magpie machine which downed Port Sharks in the 1999 Group 2 grand final.
Coaching NSW Combined High Schools, he won back-to-back national titles in 2007-08 with insiders maintaining it was only a matter of time before he received the honour of the top appointment.
The 2011 Australian Schoolboys team will be selected following the six-day under-18 years national championships which are being held in St Marys from July 10.
The touring party will head for New Zealand on September 29 for Internationals in Auckland and Whangarei.
VB Gold Group 2 chief administrator Jim Anderson praised Denham’s selection and is confident he will have no trouble handling the Open grade’s Country Rugby League campaign as well as his national commitments.
“Pete has a gift for coaching and has a great backstop in Darren Leaney to handle things any time he’s away,” he said.