PAPANUI TIGERS 2018 SEASON PREVIEW
After a season as Papanui Tigers’ assistant coach, Darrell Coad takes over the club’s premiers side – but he has a barely recognisable roster to work with in 2018.
Shane Endacott hung up the clipboard at the end of last year after a three-season tenure at Papanui, which included a drought-breaking premiership in 2015 and two subsequent preliminary final appearances.
For a variety of reasons, most of last year’s squad have also departed. Coad, who steered Halswell to a grand final win and the Rockcote Canterbury Bulls to a National Premiership in 2014, is relishing the challenge, however.
“It was good working with Shane last year, but I’m looking forward to grabbing the reins this year and seeing what I can do with this group at Papanui,” Coad enthused.
“I’ve only got about four or five players from last year (due to) work commitments, family commitments, guys going overseas and to new clubs.”
It’s certainly a daunting turnover. Izic Placid (Nothern), Jaye Pukepuke (Halswell), Josh Ka, JJ Smith (both Australia), John Tafua (retired), James Wihongi (Marist), Jules Webley (work commitments) and Josh Aieone (rugby) and Paradise Mann headline the Tigers exodus.
Though depth may cause some problems during the year, Coad isn’t panicking. He has secured several players from the rugby union ranks and is impressed with the way his squad is coming together.
“We’ve looked outside the square (for recruits), we didn’t want to encroach on other premier sides,” Coad said.
“They’re pretty much a new team but they seem to gelling quite well really.
“Outside of our group of 20 players we might start to struggle a bit, but we’ll have a strong starting 17.
“There’s a lot of new guys but they seem to be enjoying it. We went on a team bonding trip to Nelson.
“The team we were meant to play (in a trial) pulled out, but we still went and it was a great weekend away for the boys.”
The Tigers may enjoy the rare luxury of flying under the radar – at least initially – but their new mentor has set his sights high.
“The goal would have to be to go into the top four and from that stage anything can happen.
“But with a new squad we’re just building one week at a time at the moment and trying to get some combinations going.”
The Papanui club could be just as difficult to recognise off the paddock as its premier team is on it after undergoing an off-season spruce-up.
The completion of redevelopment at Papanui Domain also means they won’t have to endure the disruptions of 2017, which saw the Tigers play the entire first round away from home.
“It’s good to be back at home and train at home. There’s been a lot of work done around the clubrooms this year through management and people putting their hand up doing a bit of painting,” Coad revealed.
“We’ll have a new sponsor announced shortly from premier grade right through to the juniors. It’s been fantastic.
“We’ll have new kits soon and they’ll all be looking pretty sharp, new TVs up in the clubrooms, which have been painted inside and out.
“We’re doing a lot around the club to brighten the whole place up and give it a bit of a new image.”
But before he can enjoy an after-match beer in the revamped clubrooms, Coad’s immediate focus is on the Tigers’ Round 1 Massetti Cup clash with Celebration Lions.
“They’re always tough and physical, Celebration, so we’re just doing as much as we can ahead of the game this week.
“Without any disrespect to Celebration, it is a bit like another trial for us as we build, not having had many trials this pre-season. We’re looking forward to getting out on our home ground.”
Years active (premiers division): 1947-present (formerly Waimari – 1922, 1925-30, 1935-41, 1945)
Titles: 14 – 1957, 1959, 1960, 1971-74, 1976-78, 1992, 1994, 1998, 2015
2018 Coach: Darrell Coad
Last season: 3rd and beaten preliminary finalists (won 10, lost 6)