Cootamundra’s Tricolours launched their 2018 season in style at the Globe Hotel and club president Jeff White confirmed Mark Elia would lead the mens’ first grade side.
White said the club was excited to have Elia on-board and this year was shaping up to be a big one for the Tricolours.
“We’re building a new clubhouse, led by Justin Roberts,” White said.
And while he said new and updated facilities like under-cover seating, more change rooms and public toilets were great to have, a team needed a coach.
“[Mark Elia’s] one of the most credentialed coaches in the club’s history,” he said.
White said Ben Brown would be assistant coach with Wayne Berkrey to act as team manager.
He said there was no coach for women’s side yet but Dave Tozer would be on hand to help.
Elia said he was looking forward to the challenge.
While he’s spent much of his professional life coaching rugby league, as a New Zealander, union was not unfamiliar.
“[Rugby] isn’t foreign, I went to a rugby school and Kiwis all get the chance to learn the game at a young age,” he said.
When it comes to coaching rugby league, Elia has covered all aspects in 23 years at the Cootamundra Bulldogs as well as the Gundagai Tigers and Junee Diesels.
Elia said coaching the Tricolours would be a new opportunity in a different game.
“My son is a rugby coach in America and I’ve been watching him play on the sevens circuit, which has rekindled my interest in the game,” he said.
Before training starts, Elia will complete a level two coaching course.
“I’m not going to go the normal route and start training very early,” Elia said.
“My focus is on quality training rather than quantity and I’m excited to do the level two coaching course.”
Elia said once the Tricolours season had finished, he wanted to take the team to play in New Zealand and the Cook Islands.
He said while he’d be guiding the Tricolours on Saturday, he’d be watching the Bulldogs on Sunday.
“I’m very excited for the Bulldogs, excited for Glen [Buttriss] and Aaron [Byrne] and the opportunity they have with the club,” Elia said.
The Tricolours will start their pre-season training on February 22.
The club’s first home game will be against Temora at Illabo before round three is held at Wallendbeen against Grenfell.