The Chronicle



RUGBY LEAGUE: They might’ve finished at the bottom of the ladder this season, but the Oakey Bears are wasting no time as they look to turn things around next year.

The club has been active in adding both new and returning faces to their books for 2022 with a new face at the helm.

Herman Ene-Purcell has taken the reins as senior coach, and said they want to get the ball rolling early as a new season approaches.

“We’re not mucking around,” Ene-Purcell said.

“We really want to make a big statement next year. There’s been a lot of hard work behind the scenes.

“There’s a buzz around the town in Oakey and a lot of people are talking footy. They’re excited for next year.

“It’s been a struggling club for a few years, but credit to (president) Brendan Dolan, he’s been working hard to turn the club around.

“He’s tried to get the right people around him to change the culture of the club and hopefully I can add to that and bring some people to Oakey.”

New faces Benji Neliman, Michael Cochrane and Wes Aumau head up the list of recruits so far.

Ene-Purcell said he’s known Neliman since his teenage years, and believes the utility back can stamp his authority as one of the rising outside backs across the competitio­n.

“I’ve known Benji since he was 17 and watched him through the years,” he said.

“He’s always been a good player and did well with the Mustangs. When I became coach I sent him a message straight away.

“He was keen, and I believe he will be one of the best fullbacks or outside backs in the TRL.”

Dylan Adamson, Brayden Schilf, Malik Woodbridge, Noel Bartman and Eddie Dean are back in the black and white, while former Bear Dylan Haaijer is also returning to Oakey.

Ene-Purcell said their commitment to the cause is exactly what the Bears were after.

“That’s what we want to build,” he said.

“We want people to come and play for the club for the right reason. We don’t want superstars who are just there to collect a cheque.

“We want our players to play for the jersey and the boys beside them.”

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