Tom Yates has given The Rock-Yerong Creek a lift heading into finals, committing to a second season as coach at Victoria Park.
Yates’ reappointment was confirmed at the Pies’ vote count on Sunday afternoon – at which the coach himself won the best-and-fairest, for the second year in a row.
He said quitting after one year wouldn’t have felt right.
“I’m excited,” Yates said.
“The first year you don’t really know what you’re doing, I suppose. It’s a big learning curve. So to do it a second year, I’ll probably do a few things differently.
“To pull the pin would’ve been, maybe not a disappointment but it’s one of those things you should do for another year.
“And I’ve enjoyed it – it’s a great bunch of blokes.”
Yates was appointed last September, taking over after a host of personnel changes.
His first priority for next year will be retaining as many players as possible including star ruckman Lachie Hunter and assistant coach Tim Sullivan.
“The committee and I have spoken to most of the boys now and it’s looking pretty positive,” he said. “I’m fairly sure we’ll retain probably 95% of the list.”
Yates is also excited he’ll be at the helm as the club welcomes back under 17s for the first time in seven years.
“It’s massive, it’ll be unreal having the 17s and hopefully a few blokes get around it and we have as many numbers as we can,” he said.
“They trained with us on Thursday and you notice the voice from all the boys goes up, and the intensity goes up.”
TRYC president Gavin Hofert said the club was very happy to announce the news.
“He’s come a long way as a coach, he’s learnt a lot and got more confident as the year’s gone on,” Hofert said.
The club’s qualification for another finals series is a credit to Yates, according to the president.
“It reinforces what sort of coach and what sort of player he is,” he said.
That was evident at the vote count on Sunday when Yates claimed the top honour.
The coach himself was more interested in talking about his team and their preparations for finals.
He said there’s no panic in the wake of Saturday’s shock loss to Barellan.
“There’s always room for improvement no matter what level you’re at,” Yates said.
“We’ve just got to knuckle down now – we’ve obviously got the bye this weekend – and just have a crack once that first final comes around.”
The Pies will take on the winner of Saturday’s match between the Northern Jets and East Wagga-Kooringal in the elimination final on Saturday week.
“That’s going to be interesting too, that’s a massive game coming up,” he said, as finals virtually start a week early with the battle for fifth.
Yates said he hadn’t underestimated the Two Blues last week, warning his players about the danger game.
“I knew that they were going to be strong over there,” Yates said.
“They’re a good side, they’ve got some really good players. Full credit to them, they were better on the day. They played well.”
The Pies were light on in the ruck with Josh Meiselbach a late withdrawal after being called in to replace the unavailable Lachie Hunter.
Hunter’s impact this season was also highlighted at the club’s vote count when he won TRYC’s revered Mark O’Leary award.
David Bauer took out the club’s reserve grade best-and-fairest.