Bluey is back on board at the Raiders. In a coup for the Hibiscus Coast Raiders Rugby League Club, ex Kiwi, Warriors and Leeds coach Brian ‘Bluey’ McClennan has agreed to take the helm of their Premier team next season.
Although he has helped out with some youth coaching at the club recently, Bluey recognises that, in returning to the Raiders top team, he has come full circle. It is here that he got his first coaching role back in the 1990s and success in that role led to other coaching positions and accolades with the Kiwis, Leeds Rhinos, and the Warriors.
He says he wants to take all that he has learnt, all his coaching expertise, and give it back to the Raiders. “It’s a way for me to go back to the community and show some gratitude, by helping the young guys and improving their game,” Bluey says.
Not only does he plan to steady the Raiders ship, but he also hopes to improve the enjoyment for everyone involved with local rugby league.
The youth of the Hibiscus Coast will be central to his rebuilding plans. He wants to get them back onto the field and teach them how to play the game “properly” so that it is a safe, enjoyable and rewarding experience. He wants family, friends, and supporters to know that the Raiders will be well coached and will work hard to play an attractive and exciting brand of footy.
Bluey plans to put the right structures in place at the club to support coaches and players of all teams. He says he aims to create an honest learning environment “ where all players can enjoy and benefit from the coaching and improve the physical, tactical and mental side of their game”.
Bluey has brought in Anthony Swann, a former professional rugby league player now living in Manly, to help, mainly on the offensive side. The coaches will provide lots of feedback so that the players know where they stand and know what they need to do to improve.
However, Bluey says that defence is the key. “Defence is the number one thing that I want to get right at the Raiders,” he says. “A team with a good defence has a lot more confidence and is able to ride out the tough moments when perhaps the offence is not clicking.”
With the current season curtailed due to NRL penalties (HM August 1), the club is understandably excited about Bluey’s return.
Club chair Karen Gibbons says they are really thrilled to have Bluey back at the club, with the coaching expertise that he brings. “His knowledge of the game makes players want to learn and play for him,” Karen says. “We look forward to the turnaround he will make with the players.”
Bluey is confident that he will get the teams playing better footy and get the crowds back to Stanmore Bay Reserve. “People will come back. We’ll get the place rocking again,” he says.
That might be just the tonic that the club needs.