Club great returns
Drovers Life Member signs on as 2019 coach
One of the Deniliquin Drovers’ best players in the club’s history will take over as coach for the 2019 Southern Inland Rugby Union season.
Four-time best and fairest winner Mark Thompson (pictured) will take on the top job for his first stint in the role.
The Drovers Life Member had a stellar career playing for the Drovers, taking out the SIRU Division Two best and fairest B Castle Memorial Trophy in 1994.
Thompson also played in the 1997 premiership winning Drovers side, claiming a club record four best and fairests in 1992, ‘95, ‘96 and ‘98.
The second rower takes the reins from Joe Gogarty, who has coached the side for the past three seasons, which included the club’s 10 year drought breaking flag in 2017.
While still being heavily involved with the club since hanging up the boots in 2007, it was his son Zack making the code switch from Aussie rules that encouraged Thompson to coach.
‘‘I have thought about coaching for a while and with my boy (Zack) playing I’ve decided now’s the right time,’’ Thompson said.
‘‘The squad has been in good hands over the years with Warwick (Strong) and Joe (Gogarty), so I don’t want to change too much of what they’ve already started.
‘‘I don’t miss a game as a spectator and they (the players) have heard me screaming from the sidelines for a while, so they should be used to it.’’
While it’s only his first year coaching the side, Thompson’s goal for 2019 is another premiership for the Drovers.
‘‘We have a good core and good group of players, so if we can expand on that we can go at least one better than last year,’’ he said.
‘‘The side made the preliminary final last year so we’ve got the talent that can get the job done.
‘‘What I want to see though is more people down at the club, whether it be current players, new players, old players or supporters.
‘‘We also want to have a focus on families and juniors at the Drovers so we can try and run a bit of a junior program.’’
Thompson also has one thing to tick off his bucket list in the 2019 season, with the non-playing coach saying he will pull the boots back on for one more match.
‘‘I’ll be looking to play round one so I can play a game with Zack,’’ he said.
‘‘I was supposed to play alongside him for the first time last year in Hay but he injured his ankle before the game.
‘‘Playing one game with everyone will also help build the relationship between us all and show what’s expected of everyone.’’
Outgoing coach Gogarty said that his side will be in great hands with Thompson.
While stepping away from the role, he said he will still stay quite involved with the club.
‘‘After three years I feel like I’ve done enough,’’ he said.
‘‘The players need a change so I felt it was time to move on. I’ve played under coaches who have become stale and it didn’t work out well.
‘‘It feels good to be able to give the role to someone I respect so much.
‘‘The aim is to spend more time with the family but I may even do a referee’s course.
‘‘I also want to be around the club with a big interest in pushing junior rugby.
‘‘Now that I’m not coaching I can give more time to the junior side of things, so hopefully we can get a few more young ones interested in rugby.’’