Junee has pulled off the coup of the Group Nine off-season by securing State of Origin player Dane Nielsen as captain-coach.
Nielsen played for Queensland five years ago, won two premierships with the Melbourne Storm and played 118 NRL games for five clubs.
He’s set to provide a massive spark to the club searching for their first premiership success since 1986.
President Simon Vanzanten was thrilled to have someone of his calibre on board.
“It has got everyone really excited in town,” Vanzanten said.
“It isn’t very often you have someone who has played State of Origin and won a couple of grand finals comes to Group Nine let alone our club.”
After struggling last season following a high player turnover and a massive injury toll the Diesels limped in to ninth position last year.
They lost to Gundagai in the 2015 grand final and were knocked out by the Tigers in the preliminary final the following year before spiralling down the ladder.
Vanzanten is confident Nielsen’s addition will help get them back into being a finals force.
“We want him to help bring a bit of a culture change,” Vanzanten said.
“We think at the club that we have a lot of great local talent but just need to get everyone fit, on the same page and we should be back to where we were a couple of years ago at really having a chance at the top teams.”
Nielsen has been working in his native Mackay as a youth worker since leaving South Sydney last season and Vanzanten believes those skills will also be beneficial.
The Diesels are looking at having a Sullivan Cup team again next year and hope Nielsen can help inspire younger generation of Diesels to come through the ranks.
Nielsen is the third former NRL player to agree to coach at Group Nine team but unlike Cootamundra’s Glen Buttriss and Albury’s Adrian Purtell he does not have previous links with the Diesels.
He actually got in touch with the club after seeing an ad on Facebook.
While the 32-year-old is secured on a one-year deal there is an option for two more.
The Diesels have also signed two front rowers.
Former Young prop Isaac Maliota and Pene Tamate have also agreed to join the club.