INCOMING Tumut Blues coach Jarrad Teka was in town last Friday and said he was excited about the upcoming Group 9 season.
“I don’t feel pressure, it’s more desire,” Teka said.
“Hearing how the club is going and the path it’s been going down the last few years is a bit disheartening, because when I came here it was such a great club.
“What I’ve been hearing is we’ve lost a bit of that culture and lost our way a bit, so I want to really do my best to bring that back to the club.”
In the years since his successful stint in Tumut, Teka has been coaching and playing in Canberra and is busy building a competitive squad for 2017, with some help from the Canberra Raiders.
“I’ve been trying to assemble our squad, and have been in negotiations with a few players,” Teka said.
“Unfortunately we haven’t got any big names signed just yet.
“I’ve also been doing some research, and have been doing some work with the Canberra Raiders to develop as a coach, so that I know that every time I come here for training I’m up to date with what’s going on at NRL level.
“I’ve been chatting with their development officers, they’re just telling me what they’re doing at that level, what expectations they are putting on the players’ fitness wise, and nutritional needs, and I can come down here and pass that on.”
With a couple of players from Wagga already signed up, Teka is pursuing more recruits to bolster the 2016 wooden spooners.
“We are trying to get a couple of players that have played high-level football, and we are negotiating with a couple and hopefully we can get them across the line,” he said.
He knows exactly what he’s in for this season and is already taking steps to return the club to its former glory.
“It was a disappointing year last year for the Blues, that was about as far as I needed to look, it was more the feedback I was getting from players that were here last year,” he said.
“I’ve been getting most of my info from that, and hearing how the club was going culture wise, the things they did and didn’t do, that’s my main focus.”
“I’ll be trying to bring back a few of the old players from when we were successful who can instil that culture into the players this year.”
It’s no secret the Blues really struggled in the forwards in 2016, and with some strong talent in the lower grades, he is looking to surround them with good players to maintain a good culture.
“From what I hear the club has a lot of good young players in the 18s, so we’re pretty secure with outside backs, and we just need to get some good blokes around them to show them how to play footy, keep their confidence up which I think is a big thing, especially for the young kids,” he said.
“That’s the feedback I got, we actually had players knocking back first grade which is unheard of, and I think that comes down to where the club was last year, and a culture thing.
“If you’re not doing things as a club together, that breeds that separation and division within the club and I’ll be making sure that we do everything together and everyone feels part of the club, that’s the goal.”
Despite looking in great shape, Teka was quick to confirm his appointment would be in a non-playing capacity.
“I’ve got to take my coaching seriously and keep my eyes on the paddock, and if I’m out there playing, there’ll be little things that I’ll miss.”
Facing a drive of more than 2 hours from Canberra for training, Teka isn’t concerned the travel will affect his ability to get the club back on track and says the journey is actually beneficial to him, giving him time to think and plan the session ahead, which will be a big benefit to both Teka and the Blues.
“It’ll be a long road, no doubt, but I found last time that when I did it, the road is actually good for me, it’s a long straight road, and is quite easy to do, and a couple of ideas will get into my head and I’ll go home and plan out my session, but as I’m driving something will pop into my head.”
With their first match against the Tumbarumba Greens on April 2, Teka has a simple message for long-suffering league fans in Tumut.
“Get behind us, and be patient and stick with us.
“One thing I’ll be drilling into the boys is to work hard, don’t take shortcuts, if you put in the hard yards, you’ll get the results, so we’ll be doing the hard work and if the town gets behind us it will definitely help.”