Wakefield looks to make impression at new club
GIVEN the chance to coach the Sawtell Panthers, Matt Wakefield packed up his boots and made the 1000km trip north-east from Hay in a heartbeat.
Wakefield, originally from the South Coast, took over the reins of the Hay Magpies last season but his yearning for the coastline opened up grander ambitions.
"I just used to grow up on the coast, so wanted to get back to it," he said.
"When you move away (from the coast) you realise how good it is.
"That was the reason why I moved up here."
But the Magpies' finish at the end of the season would be reason enough for any coach to look elsewhere.
The country club struggled with form as players were pulled out due to farm work commitments.
Wakefield said the end result was the Magpies finishing second last on the Group 20 ladder, which featured far bigger centres such as Griffith.
Now at the helm of the Panthers, Wakefield has already started to get the cogs in motion in a bid to climb further up the ladder than this year's fourth place finish.
He said he'd already started pre-season training to allow the existing Panthers players to familiarise himself with the two out of town signings - front rower Luke Serevi and utility Matt Marshall.
"We've signed a lot of blokes who played last year," he said.
"They're not only a big part of the community but a big part of this club. I didn't want to upset the apple cart because I don't have to, there's some good locals."
Wakefield said he would put in a lot of work which focussed on possession.
"The biggest part of the game is possession," he said.
"Holding onto our kicks and building our momentum."
Wakefield said he would get the Panthers started with proper training from Tuesday, January 10 at 6pm.