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A DUAL coaching ticket has been given the reins at VB Gold Group 2 rugby league club Orara Valley.

Faithful servants Grant ‘Gonzo’ Douglass and recently announced ‘Axeman of the Decade’ Paul Tomlinson will share the coaching role next season after 2008 premiership-winning captain coach Darryl Fisher was kicked up the ladder into the president’s role.

Fisher will fill the massive shoes of another club icon, Glenn Soper.

“I would have liked ‘Sopey’ to keep going but when he asked me to look around for somebody to take over I thought about it for a while and decided to put my hand up,” Fisher said.

“Gonzo and Tommo have a good handle on what needs to be done and I can help out in the background as a sort of coaching director or general sounding board for anything they need.”

Douglass and Tomlinson are considered among the competition’s elite players and at club level they hold legend status.

Tomlinson has survived at the top of the tree for a decade ... save for one necessary season off to repair his battered and bruised body.

Douglass’ commitment has never been questioned and the story of how he once hand-painted his car in the Axemen’s green and gold colours has been told many times.

Although loyalty and courage under fire can only take you so far.

The club has failed to make the top grade finals since claiming the 2008 premiership with a heart-stopping win over Woolgoolga.

However, after winning their maiden under-18 title and finishing runners-up in reserve grade this year, Orara appears a club with young talent to burn.

Fisher revealed the club would not be buying up big and has a two-word formula for getting back in the premiership race.

“Get healthy ... stay healthy ... or maybe that’s actually four words,” he said.

“Seriously, no club should have to go through what we’ve suffered over the last two years,” he said in reference to the club’s injury woes.

“Just look at what Sawtell and Macksville have been through ... and double that for all the bad luck through injuries in our case.

“Once we check the fitness of everybody we’ll have another look at the situation and if some gaps still remain in the ranks, we’ll look for the right people outside the local competition to fill them.”

A great believer in not warehousing talent in the lower grades, Fisher can rattle off half a dozen names or more from the premiership-winning under-18s who will debut in first grade over coming months.

He’s also ready to champion the cause of ARL Development officer (and first grade utility) Mike Castle who is promoting the introduction of the 12-man interchange.

“Young, fit blokes playing at their peak get the biggest results, are what the public want to see and are what our club aim to give them,” he said.



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