Premiership player Connor Neyland returns to coach Coolamon in 2018 with Marshal Macauley assistant

NEW FACES: Incoming Coolamon coach Connor Neyland (left) and Hoppers assistant coach Marshal Macauley who will lead the club into the 2018 season. Picture: Kieren L Tilly
NEW FACES: Incoming Coolamon coach Connor Neyland (left) and Hoppers assistant coach Marshal Macauley who will lead the club into the 2018 season. Picture: Kieren L Tilly

Respect is the word that is springing to mind at Coolamon after former Hopper Connor Neyland was handed the coaching reins for next season.

Neyland has been named as the successor to the long-serving Matt Hard, who announced during the year that his stint at Coolamon would come to a close. 

Alongside the new leader, reliable backman Marshal Macauley will take the first steps in his coaching career, as an assistant to Neyland.

He said the return of his 2013 premiership teammate as coach has generated excitement.

“There’s a lot of buzz at the moment,” Macauley said.

“He’s very physical, very tough and he’s what we need with a young squad. He’ll straighten us up.”

Neyland last played for the Hoppers in 2015 before spending the last two seasons at Ungarie in the Northern Riverina Football League.

Connor Neyland

Connor Neyland

He can play key roles at either end of the ground, has played 119 senior games for Coolamon, is a former club captain and twice Hoppers player of the year.

“He’s earned the respect of everyone. That’s half the battle, and the players respect him greatly,” Macauley said.

The new leadership partnership isn’t about to begin with bold predictions about where they intend to finish.

“We just want to have a better start than last year and then work on that,” Macauley said.

“There’s a lot of buzz at the moment. We haven’t really lost anyone and we had a great end to last season.”

The Hoppers lost their four first games last season.

However, they won eight of their next 12 in the rest of the home-and-away season, rallying to finish fifth.

But they crashed out against Griffith in the first week of finals.

The club’s 2017 best-and-fairest is excited about the challenge of stepping up to a coaching role at his junior club.

“I’m absolutely stoked to be honest, very much looking forward to it,” Macauley, 24, said. 

Marshal Macauley

Marshal Macauley

“It’s crossed my mind (to consider coaching). I didn’t expect it to happen this early but it came up a few weeks ago and I said I’d be interested and put my hand up.”

Coolamon president Derek Owens said the club had been looking for the right personnel to carry on the work done by Hard in developing their players.

And they believe they have the men for the job.

“We’re absolutely thrilled as a footy club to have two people with such respect and standing within the football community,” Owens said.

“There’s probably not two tougher guys than Connor and Marshal – tough, but fair. They’re both really inspirational players.”