Incoming Dubbo Macquarie coach Wes Middleton has high hopes for the Raiders in 2019.
The former Redcliffe Dolphin has come to the role in trying circumstances, leaving the Narromine Jets after just a single season and replacing Macquarie junior Dylan Hill at the helm of the club.
But Middleton – who also played junior rugby league with Macquarie – had defended the move, saying it was the best decision for him and his family right now.
“It’s obviously a new opportunity as a coach to further my growth and development and I’m really excited,” he said.
“To be asked by the Raiders to come over and coach in 2019 was, I was honoured but, in saying that, it wouldn’t have been possible without the Narromine Jets giving me the opportunity in 2018.”
Outgoing Raiders coach Dylan Hill led from the sidelines in 2018 as he recovered from his latest knee injury.
But the Raiders flagged the value of having a playing captain-coach as one reason they wanted Middleton.
They also flagged discipline as an ongoing issue at the club, and are determined to get back in the finals mix after 2018’s fifth-place finish.
Middleton is positive he can make an impact.
“My view is you’ve got to get to training and put in the work and you’ll get rewarded,” he said.
“Discipline is the key to being successful and Macquarie is a club that has been kind of out of their element in the past few years.
“[The committee] are looking to get back up into the top two or three and obviously I’m up for the challenge, but we want to create disciplined football and that comes down to having a great attitude around the place … and a great leader on and off the field.”
Middleton understands the challenge ahead to make Macquarie a true finals contender, and he plans to lay down the law from day one.
“I want to draw a line and say ‘this is how it’s going to be. You may as well join another club if you’re not up for the challenge’,” Middleton said. “But I’ve got all the confidence in the world. There’s a lot of talented players … and I’m just grateful for the opportunity that I’ve been given.”
Middleton admitted he would miss the connections he had built with the Narromine community.
Read more: Group 11 2018: Narromine Jets’ Wes Middleton couldn’t have picked a better start to coaching career
“I look back on this year with nothing but gratitude,” Middleton said.
“Seeing the guys develop this year, from preseason to the end of the season and even attitude and lifestyle changes … all the first grade boys that I played with, I think I’ll miss that the most.
“We had a good connection. But at the end of the day players and coaches move on and this is my opportunity to further grow and develop.”