Jackson steps down as Rams look for new head coach to lead Western resurgence

RETURNING AND DEPARTING: Rams under 16s mentor Kurt Hancock will be back in 2018, while under 23s coach Darren Jackson won't return to the role next winter. Photo: NICK McGRATH
RETURNING AND DEPARTING: Rams under 16s mentor Kurt Hancock will be back in 2018, while under 23s coach Darren Jackson won't return to the role next winter. Photo: NICK McGRATH

Western is on the hunt for a new senior coach after Darren Jackson stepped down from the post he’s held for the last two seasons.

Jackson was first appointed Rams head coach for the 2016 season and had one crack at the country championship with an open side before Country Rugby League made the call to change its representative rules and enforce an under 23s cap for 2017.

It proved a tough move for Jackson and the Rams, with Western bundled out of this year’s championship race via a round one mauling against eventual champions Monaro at Cowra.

Still, the Bourke-based coach, who has represented Group 11, Western and NSW Country as a player and won five Group 11 player of the year awards with both Dubbo Macquarie and Cobar, was initially keen to continue on as mentor in 2018.

But Western regional manager Peter Clarke says Jackson’s work commitments into the new year have increased, meaning he’s not continuing on as Rams coach next winter.

Jackson’s departure isn’t the only change to Western’s coaching structure heading into 2018 either.

Championship winning mentor Cameron Greenhalgh has also stepped back from his under 18s coaching position, with the Bathurst-based Paul McDonald taking over the role.

McDonald has been part of Greenhalgh’s coaching team and helped the Rams to championship finals in 2016 and 2017, winning the latter.

McDonald has also been involved with the Rams academy programs, which helps identify junior talent that eventually progresses on to be part of Western’s hugely successful junior representative sides.

Paul has helped with the academy for last five or six years.

Western regional manager Peter Clarke

The under 16s boys won their country championship in 2017 as well, with mentor Kurt Hancock staying on as coach into the new year as the Western outfit looks to defend its title.

Clarke said McDonald’s appointment, which was confirmed after Western’s annual general meeting at Wellington in November, was a natural progression of sorts for the highly credential former Bathurst Panthers coach.

“That’s all part and parcel of the role,” Clarke said of McDonald’s involvement with the academy programs.

The Western academy is currently in full swing. 

“Paul has helped with the academy for last five or six years. Coached SG Ball at Wests in the past as well so he knows his stuff,” Clarke added.