Mustangs lose their leader

GROUP 2’s first coaching casualty has occurred with Adam ‘Chicken’ McMurray standing down at Macleay Valley.

He’s decided to have surgery in the off-season on a nagging shoulder injury and while he’s likely to be back on the paddock around one month into the season, club president Mike Spalding said the decision had been made to look for another on-field general.

“Chicken wants to keep playing and he badly wants the ’Stangs back near the top of the ladder,” he said.

“But we have to be realistic about him being off the field for an indefinite period, so the decision was made to go for a new coach.”

After returning from a premiership-winning season with Group 2 club Wauchope, the big forward found reality biting often during a tough year back home at Verge Street Stadium.

With players making themselves unavailable and new Hastings League outfit Lower Clarence Magpies competing for players, the Kempsey-based club battled to make a mark with their lowest point reached on July 18 when the side copped a 100-6 flogging at the hands of Sawtell.

But the hiding sparked a turnaround in fortunes with wins over Macksville and Bellinger Valley-Dorrigo at their next two starts, with their only defeat a four-points loss to eventual grand finalists, Coffs Harbour, in the final round.

“Soon after our annual meeting we’ll be in a position to name a coach and I think we have at least two good candidates within the club,” Spalding added.

One of those is believed to be former first grade coach Mark Hayes who has lately been in charge of junior sides.

And sources reveal a strong push for sometimes controversial reserve grade boss Thomas ‘Fudge’ Wright who showed a talent for the coaching caper by taking his side to within one game of a rare grand final appearance.

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