While speaking to the Leader recently, North Tamworth Bears coach Paul Boyce said, half-jokingly, that he hopes Josh Schmiedel will emulate his father, Mick, and play until he's 50. While it is unlikely that he will make it that far, Schmiedel confirmed that he will don the Bears' colours for one more season in 2024. "It'll definitely be my last year," he said. "As we got closer to the end of the year [in 2023], I was umming and ahhing. But I didn't get the full year that I wanted, and I was still playing decent footy. "And then we found out Scotty [Blanch] was retiring, I thought I don't want me and him to leave at the same time." The hulking North Tamworth forward has announced his intent to retire more than once, as he did ahead of the club's premiership-winning 2023 season. But he has thus far been unable to resist the call back to the sport even after sustaining some serious injuries, including a detached retina which has cost him most of the vision in his right eye - "I've adapted to it as much as I can" - and a broken arm which he played with for much of the latter of last season. In spite of those barriers, Schmiedel produced several match-winning performances last season when fit. And, according to the head coach, the 37-year-old brings much more to the table than just his on-field ability. "He's extremely invested in the club," Boyce said. "He's a great player, and he's a really smart guy. He really knows footy, knows how to get around the boys. "When we had some tough times in the last couple of seasons, he was one to really bring the boys up." After sharing the co-captaincy with Blanch last year, Schmiedel will take on the role by himself next season. In addition to his desire to help bridge the gap between the legendary number nine's departure and the rise of the next generation of the club's leaders, Schmiedel had a secondary reason for wanting to continue. The veteran is close with Ryley Mackay, who recently signed with the Bears after four years with the Kootingal-Moonbi Roosters, and wants to play a season alongside his mate. Schmiedel was one of the reasons Mackay made the switch to North Tamworth, having urged the young centre to do so prior to last season. "I had a yarn to him last year about trying to get him across," he said. "But he was pretty loyal to Kooty, he has a lot of good friends over there. He said to just give him one more year there. I spoke to him again [post-season], and threw the bait out there with it being my last season."