Premier Rugby: New Souths coach Todd Dammers returns home to lead young Magpies in 2020

By Finn Morton; Photo – QRU Media/Brendan Hertel

Souths are one of a few clubs with a new head coach for the 2020 Premier Grade season, with the Magpies promoting from within with the appointment of Todd Dammers.

Dammers is coming off a successful spell in charge of the Souths’ colts program but has a wealth of experience on top of that which could prove the difference in what is expected to be a tight race a spot in the Premier Rugby finals, after missing out last season.

He’s been an assistant coach in Japan’s Top League with the Ricoh Black Rams, Director of Rugby at Sydney University, and head coach with both Nudgee College and at Premier Grade level with Jeeps a few years ago.

But a return to the top level of Queensland club rugby is extra special for the new head coach as he takes control of a team that means much more than just rugby for him and his family.

“For me, I’m really looking forward to it. I’m probably looking forward to it more for people like my old man. My old man was the President of Souths, I grew up here,” said Dammers.

“Neil Cannon who was there was the coach of my godfather. My first job as a six-year-old was to run the sand out to Damon Emtage for his kicking.

“I’ve been around it for a long time, so I think I’m more excited about it for my old man than I am if that makes sense.”

Inexperience will be Souths biggest challenge throughout next season according to Dammers, but with this being the nature of the league, this weakness could become their biggest strength in the fight for finals.

“The challenge that is probably there in front of us is that we’re going to be quite young but at the same time it’s a young competition. It’s going to be more exciting than challenging.

“With a young group the most important thing to start off with is to remain competitive.

“I don’t see it as a negative being young, I see it more as exciting, blooding these guys, putting them out on the field and just letting them go. Just got to give them a little bit of direction and then let them do what they do.

“Brothers in all honestly were probably the best team the whole year but looking at it, they were probably younger than anyone.”

Souths capped off a strong colts 1 campaign last season with a Grand Final victory over Brothers at Ballymore.

Dammers stressed that to continue developing and to build on their impressive 2019 season, some of that premiership-winning side would need to step up to open age rugby before they test themselves in first-grade.

“I’d probably say eight to ten of our starting team from the Grand Final will move into grades to start off with. At the same time, we’ve got to refresh our colts as well. These kids have won a comp and I’m a big believer in ‘what’s the next challenge?’

“For them, they can stay in colts and they might go back to it, but initially we want to push them along and challenge them. They’ve won colts so what’s next? The next progression for them is to see what they can do in grade.”

The Magpies are commonly regarded throughout the league as being one of if not the hardest team to stop once they develop some momentum.

He plans to continue this momentum-focused style into 2020 but will also incorporate a different style of play after taking some inspiration from some club legends.

“When I was a kid, we were a great ball-movement side. The guys like the Horans, the Littles and the Damian Smiths. I wouldn’t mind getting a little bit of both.

“Being a young side, we’ve got to be prepared to do all the little things well. We’ve got to be fit, got to be strong, got to be prepared to try and work harder and longer than anyone else.

“I make no secret of the fact that you’ve got to be fit in this game, you just have to be. The other thing is as you can see from guys from around this comp, it’s getting fitter-faster.”