Shute Shield Merry Go Round: Who’s coaching who in 2024?
Just six head coaches from 2023 will return to coach the same Shute Shield side next season, with six new or returning coaches taking the reins at the remaining clubs.
Here’s a little on the 12 men who will lead each club in 2024.
Eastern Suburbs: Ben Batger
After spending the best part of two decades playing, then coaching at Eastwood, Ben Batger heads east to take over from Simon Kneebone at Woollahra Oval.
Batger took the Woodies to a grand final and two preliminary finals in recent years and could make an immediate impact at a club that hasn’t lived up to expectations in the top grade for a number of years.
Eastwood: Dave Telfer
After reinvigorating Eastwood’s colts program in recent years, well respected under-age coach Dave Telfer takes over the first grade job from Batger.
Telfer can clearly coach and he knows how to build and run a successful rugby program.
Despite that, naysayers could argue that the transition from coaching teenagers to coaching men could be challenging for some.
Gordon: Harry Fehily
After coaching under Shute Shield veteran Billy Melrose for several seasons at Chatswood Oval, rookie first grade coach Harry Fehily beat out several experienced candidates for the top job at Gordon.
Fehily is a former Performance Analyst for UK Premiership club London Irish and worked as an assistant at Eastwood and Manly before joining Gordon as an assistant coach under Melrose in 2021.
From all reports, Fehily has a great rapport with the playing group and could prove to be a breath of fresh air for the younger Stags in 2024.
Hunter: Scott Coleman
Bubba Coleman was filthy when his side’s season came to an end two weeks earlier than planned.
The Wildfires were the big improver of 2023 and Coleman will be desperate to go deeper into the competition near year, but he’ll have to do so without several of his best players for some or all of next season, after they signed deals to play in the MLR.
Manly: Chris Delooze
Chris Delooze returns for his second year in charge at Manly and will be keen to find a way to get his Marlins playing their best rugby at the right time of the season.
Manly were one of the form teams of the competition at the midway point of the season, with just three losses across the first 10 rounds.
But following that, they only won two and drew two of their remaining 10 games.
Northern Suburbs: Zak Beer
After falling just short in last year’s grand final, Zak Beer will return for his fourth season as head coach at Norths and will be desperate to claim a Shute Shield title after several near misses.
Beer has retained the majority of his squad from 2023 and hinted earlier this year that several other players from rival clubs had shown interest in a shift to North Sydney Oval.
Randwick: Steve Hoiles
After winning a premiership at his childhood club in his first season as a Shute Shield coach, Randwick’s Steve Hoiles has a fair bit to live up to in 2024.
He’s lost a few key players, namely Irish lock Cormac Daly, but will draw from a second grade side who played in a preliminary final last year and two lower grade sides that also tasted Shute Shield success.
Southern Districts: Joe Barakat
Officially the John Farnham of the Shute Shield coaching ranks, Joe Barakat returns to Southern Districts at a time when the club desperately needs him.
Barakat is a local junior and coached the Rebels from 1998 to 2000 in the early days of a coaching career that now spans three decades.
Barakat also had three stints as head coach of West Harbour, most recently in 2022, and is well regarded by all in Sydney rugby circles.
Sydney University: Todd Louden
Another highly experienced coach in both professional and club rugby, Todd Louden returns to coach Sydney Uni in 2024.
Louden last coached the Students to a Shute Shield premiership in 2012 and spent time at both West Harbour and Southern Districts, in between several stints in professional rugby.
Warringah: Josh Holmes
After leading Warringah to a breakthrough first grade colts premiership this year, former Rats No.9 Josh Holmes will take over from Mike Ruthven at Rat Park in 2024.
Holmes was a key figure in Warringah’s 2017 first grade premiership and knows what it takes to win in the Shute Shield.
He’s one of three players from the Rats’ 2017 premiership side that will coach in the Shute Shield next season.
West Harbour: Cam Treloar
Another member of Warringah’s 2017 Shute Shield premiership side, Cam Treloar returns for his second season in charge at West Harbour.
The Pirates lost eight matches by eight points or less in 2023 and matched it with the competition’s best towards the back end of the season.
Treloar is expected to retain the majority of his squad from last year, minus captain Max Clementson, and is hoping to draw from the club’s vastly improved colts system as well.
Western Sydney: Sailosi Tagicakibau
You guessed it, another member of Warringah’s 2017 premiership side, Sailosi Tagicakibau also returns to Eric Tweedale Stadium for another season after his Two Blues fell just short of finals footy in 2023.
After a slow start to the year, Western Sydney lost just three of their final 10 matches last season.
They’ll be without star fullback Otu Mausia, who has been signed by Moana Pasifika, but are expected to retain a large portion of their players from this year’s campaign.