Tigers' coach has earned his stripes

PLAYER power is behind the Orange Tigers’ move to appoint former mentor Nathan Pearce as the club’s 2013 first grade coach.

Pearce will reclaim the head coach’s role this winter after stepping down from the post at the end of the 211 season, a move that made way for last year’s player-coach Joashim Mahon.

But Mahon hasn’t been able to commit to the club for the upcoming season after injury plagued the young forward at the end of 2012.

Enter Pearce.

In charge of the Tigers’ top grade outfit from 2009-2011, Pearce spoke to the Central Western Daily on Tuesday and was delighted to again be at the helm of the Orange club’s best talent, adding “it’s time to have another crack”.

“I always said I wouldn’t mind going back but I always said as well it was time for someone else to take it on [in 2012], and Josh did a really good job at doing that last season,” Pearce said.

Mahon’s exit was a bitter pill for the Central West AFL club.

But in the form of Pearce, the Tigers now have a well-respected club veteran in charge.

His propulsion into the role is testament to that.

“When we heard Josh wasn’t going to be [coaching] any more a few of the boys approached me about taking on the role again,” he said.

“I came to the realisation if I was to do it with the work commitments I have I’d have to have a capable assistant coach, and I’ve found that with Andrew Nelson. We applied and got the job.

“It basically came from player involvement.”

The Tigers, again, finished third in 2012.

It’s a habit the club just can’t shake.

Pearce said it was time to change.

“I think if you look back, we’ve finished third the last five years, and a couple of those times we’ve probably missed an opportunity and missed out on playing in a grand final,” he said.

“This year, there’s two main things. Commitment and preparation.

“I know it’ll be hard with the uni and mine workers, but if we can get a greater commitment and prepare a little better we’re a side that can improve.”

Remarkably, pre-season started for the Tigers seven weeks before Christmas.

Pearce says the early start was as much about maintaining fitness as it was about “looking to train the way we want to play this season”.

He added the losses of both Varun Wijewardene and Mitch McKenna would make achieving such a goal tough, but the Tigers weren’t prepared to be content with finishing third any more.

“I’m confident if we can find a few blokes to replace them we’ll be in for a good year,” he said.

The side will resume pre-season training at Max Stewart Oval from 6.30pm on Monday and Wednesday nights.

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