NRC: QLD Country unveil all-star coaching roster
Former Queensland Reds and Wallabies superstar Toutai Kefu has been named as head coach of Queensland Country for the 2016 National Rugby Championship.
Following six years coaching in Japan, Kefu will return to Ballymore for the first time as a coach.
“It’s a been a while. I haven’t actually been here (Ballymore) for a while,” said Kefu.
“I’m looking forward to it, but hopefully get some success.”
Kefu retired from playing in 2010, and has strengthened his coaching credentials in Japan, and was also named head coach of the Tongan national side earlier this year.
Queensland Country have not experienced much success in the first two seasons of the NRC, having only won two games in each campaign.
Kefu is aiming to turn that record around and says he’ll be driving home a positive, ambitious culture within the group.
“I’ve come here to win and that’s the message I am going to get across to the players.”
“We haven’t had success in the past but hopefully we can change that.”
Returning to the spiritual home of rugby in Queensland is an exciting opportunity for Kefu to continue his develop as a coach and look to take the next step.
“I noticed when I came back, I had slipped behind a bit, in terms of coaching, so it’s another chance just to up-skill myself,” said Kefu.
The former No.8 will have plenty of experience and knowledge to turn to in his coaching team, with 2015 Queensland Country coach and U20s head coach Jason Gilmore returning as an assistant and Brad Thorn also stepping up as a sidekick.
“If you look at experience, those two have got a lot more recent experience here than I do.”
“I’ll definitely be leaning on them for a lot of help and advice and it’ll be a three man head coaching panel, so I’m looking forward to working with them.”
Having played against Country representative sides during his playing career, Kefu says he was fond of their combative style, which is something he intends to replicate with this year’s squad.
“I played a lot against Queensland Country players and they represent a tough breed of individual. Uncompromising, relentless, aggressive, so they’re the type of traits we want to bring out in our team.”
“The identity is already there, we just hope we can portray that on the field.”
With the squads set to be announced later this week, Kefu is excited by the players he has been able to assemble for this year’s campaign.
“We’ve got a really good squad, probably the strongest squad we’ve had in the past two years.”
“The players, I hope, are hungry and that’s my job to try and motivate them and get the best out of them.”
Championship winning assistant coach, Rod Seib, has been promoted to the role of head coach of Brisbane City for 2016.
The departing Sunnybank head coach has steered Brisbane City’s attack over the past two seasons and now has the opportunity to extend on the success that new Reds head coach, Nick Stiles, built.
“The standards that have been set by the team over the past two years have led up to this,” said Seib.
“Now to be in the head coaching role, there’s a lot of responsibility, a lot of pressure comes with that, but really looking forward to it.”
Seib will have fellow championship winning assistant Shane Arnold by his side along with former Reds prop Anthony Mathison, who helped Brothers claim a premiership this year.
“Probably more important than the fact that they’re good coaches, they’re good blokes,” said Seib.
“The fact that I have the privilege of working with them, I’m really looking forward to it. It’ll be an enjoyable season knowing I have those two there supporting me.”
“I’m really lucky to work with the coaching and management staff we have with the team.”
The third instalment of the National Rugby Championship kicks off on the 27th of August.