Experienced campaigner takes control of Devils
BRISBANE Broncos development officer and new Gympie Devils Division One coach Darren Burns has big plans for A-grade rugby league in Gympie and the league community next year.
Burns is keen to make the most of the club's move to have a stand-alone team in the 2016 Sunshine Coast-Gympie Division One competition.
"I strongly support what the club is trying to achieve; to stand alone and have their own identity again," he said.
The Devils approached Burns with a request to be more involved next year - particularly with the Division One side.
"They asked if I would help out," the coach said.
"We'll need a lot of help from the club and the general public."
Burns previously coached the A-grade side between 2006-2009 as one of his first Gympie development roles.
The Gympie club has struggled with numbers in recent years and Burns' initial focus will be on rebuilding the game in Gympie.
And there is a history of success on which Burns hopes to build. The A-grade Devils side won the 2010 premiership and backed up that performance with a second grand final appearance in 2011
The impetus for the Devils to exist in their own right was born from Gympie A-grade players having to play in the join Gympie/Noosa Northern Outlaws outfit last year.
"The A-grade players are the main reason we wanted to stand alone," Burns said.
"They feel like they have enough players to standalone. Hopefully they are right."
"The town of Gympie has got such a proud history of rugby league and I think we have been underachieving in partnership with other clubs and should be able to standalone."
Burns, a former national rugby league player, said his goals next year were to make the club more inclusive.
"My sole focus is not just on winning a premiership," he said.
"(I want to make sure) players are having fun and that the club is inclusive of partners, families and friends.
"I want all the non-players to feel like it's their club as well; not just the players."
It is expected going it alone will only be a success if players commit to the team and strive for a successful season.
"It is easy to say we are stand-alone but it is over to the players now," Burns said.
"We need the boys to turn up to training and games."
The new coach is aiming for a mix of young and experienced players when team training begins after Christmas.
"With the Division Two side winning the premiership last season, hopefully we can get those players back and we will have some strong players in the club," Burns said.