NEW ERA: Kilian wants local cubs in the Panthers jersey
THE Sawtell Panthers have announced their new coaching staff for 2020 and the team is being spearheaded by a big man with huge ambitions.
Dan Kilian grew up on the Coffs Coast, with the young prodigy a junior of the Coffs Harbour Comets and won 'about six premierships' in that time.
Kilian then signed with the Gold Coast Titans for a few years and played under-20s.
Following his stint on the glitter strip, Kilian moved to the Newcastle Knights in 2013 before plying his trade for various country clubs over the last few seasons.
Now back home, Sawtell's new leader is looking forward to grabbing an opportunity he desired with both hands.
"I was really interested in taking up a coaching and leadership role at per se an 'underdog club'," Kilian said.
"I approached Sawtell because I heard there was an opening, so we've put our heads together and already come up with some really good ideas."
Appointed as the Panthers' captain-coach, the 25-year-old said he's looking forward to building a culture within Rex Hardaker Oval which focuses on Sawtell juniors.
"I think local footy should be played by locals, putting the emphasis on bringing in players from outside takes footy away from the locals," Kilian said.
"It gives the younger blokes not much hope, they want to grow up and play first grade but they see blokes from out of town playing it.
"We're here to bring that hope back and coach our juniors into being first graders for this club."
The front-rower said the key to bringing his vision to life will be hard work and getting everyone to buy into the idea.
"With some people we've already got in the club I think it will be a good, strong movement and the young blokes will be on board.
"If they do want to become NRL players we'll set the benchmark here so when their opportunity arises they've already got it instilled in them."
The Panthers' form was frustratingly inconsistent at the beginning of 2019 for former coach Garry Stevenson, before a terrible slump nearly saw them miss out on finals footy altogether.
A late season surge and great finals run capped off a decent year for the side, but Kilian wants to put an end to the yo-yo displays.
"We have to be consistent at training, off the field and on the field. Hopefully that will snowball every week and we can go from there.
"There's no doubt we'll have our downs, but we have to have the mentality of knowing how to turn back those negatives.
"I absolutely cannot wait, let's get cracking."
Kilian will co-captain the side with Joey Cudmore.
The Panthers are commencing pre-season training in the first week of December.