Former Group 10 player of the year Ben Gregory will coach the Mudgee Dragons premier league side in 2018 looking to encourage a community-first culture at the club.
The announcement comes as the final Group 10 coaching confirmation of the year, the Dragons’ committee delaying their hunt in order to find the right candidate.
Jared Robinson, who will take on the president’s role again in 2018, has nothing but good words to say about the club’s newest mentor – Gregory takes over from 2017 coach Peter Hickman.
“(Gregory’s) football pedigree is strong,” Robinson said, Gregory winning the competition’s player of the year award in 2001.
“Ben was a captain when Mudgee made five grand finals in a row (between 2000 and 2004).”
In order to be a premiership contender in 2018, Gregory thinks it’s important to place a strong emphasis on the community’s role within the club, and Robinson is on board with that mindset.
“He wants to go back to the old days where Mudgee was more of a community town and the team was made up of mostly locals,” Robinson said.
“He wants to drive a community club and an ‘all in’ type of culture and I think he’s spot on there.”
After officially retiring in 2006, Gregory has been a familiar face at the club, whether it’s to run water or help out with coaching.
Gregory believes the Dragons’ top grade unit has a massive upside to it and his familiarity with the club and its players can help the red V fire in 2018.
“I think they’re yet to realise their full potential as a playing group,” Gregory said.
Although clubs like Orange CYMS and Oberon Tigers have acquired high-profile players in recent times, Gregory thinks the Dragons can use its club unity to succeed.
“We’re not a big centre like some of our competitors so we need to use our community bond to our advantage and lean on each other.”
Gregory takes a somewhat old-fashioned approach to his coaching and thinks honesty and conditioning are two keys to success.
“I want players to be honest in their efforts and to put in for their mates,” Gregory said.
“I’d also like to think we can play smart football and use a clinical approach to our advantage and to do that we need to be fit.”
Prospective players will be able to develop their conditioning on Friday, January 12 as the club undergoes its first training session of the season which will be capped off by a meet-and-greet barbecue.
Sebastian Flack will return to mentor the first division side while Jono and Brendan George will take on the under 18s role. Although the men’s side of the club has its coaching sorted, the Dragons are still seeking a women’s league tag coach and are encouraging potential candidates to get in contact with the club ASAP.