Oberon has appointed prop Josh Starling as captain-coach of the Tigers’ top grade side for the next two seasons.
A former NRL player with Newcastle, South Sydney and Manly, Starling arrived at the mountains in 2017 and played every game for his new club throughout a somewhat turbulent campaign.
Last season’s coach Luke Branighan stood down just prior to the season before being reinstated ahead of round one while the club battled injury throughout the year and limped into fifth place before losing to Panthers in the elimination semi-final.
Starling’s appointment is expected to bring stability to the black and golds, while his class is undeniable.
On top of his 80 NRL games across three clubs, the 28-year-old also took out man of the match honours in the senior Group 10 versus Group 11 game in May, helping the blue and white group win its first western division derby in four years.
Starling’s plan is to use all of that experience to help lift the Tigers back to the heights the club enjoyed in 2017, making the Group 10 grand final.
He plans on launching the club’s 2019 assault off the back of an intense pre-season training program.
“If you want to play footy and you’re prepared to put in the effort I’ll guarantee you’ll learn things at the Tigers,” Starling said.
“I’m going to bring a new style to the Tigers by introducing current NRL techniques and training programs.”
Out-going coach Luke Branighan has signed a two-year deal with Bathurst St Pat’s.
Tigers president Ian Christie-Johnston said his club didn’t live up to expectations in 2018 and would prepare for next season in the hope of correcting the club’s course.
“Like a lot of teams, injuries and suspensions meant that the Tigers were rarely able to field a full-strength team,” he said.
The appointment of Starling, and Branighan’s signature at St Pat’s, means four Group 10 clubs have coaches locked in for next season.
Willie Heta’s has signed a two-year extension with Hawks while Panthers’ gun Doug Hewitt was initially expected to start his coaching tenure in 2019 before Todd Barrow was forced into an early retirement.
Hewitt and Heta will face off in this year’s Group 10 preliminary final on Sunday at Wade Park.