Returning Forbes title-winning coach Cameron Greenhalgh says the Magpies will look to ease into their 2019 Group 11 premiership defence.
Greenhalgh was on Tuesday locked in for the top job at the black and whites ahead of next season and will headline a gangbuster coaching staff that includes Damien Kennedy (reserve grade), Jason Kennedy (under 18s) and Kristy Hartwig (league tag).
Greenhalgh anticipates the Magpies won’t start training until the end of January, a tactic the club used in 2018.
He said the later start ensures the playing group avoids burn out and is essentially firing on all cylinders come the business end of the season, which was the case in September when Jake Grace led Forbes to its second Group 11 top grade crown in three years with a 23-22 win over Dubbo CYMS at Apex Oval.
Grace has since hung up the boots, while a host of other Magpies were set to follow in the foot steps of their illustrious skipper.
But Greenhalgh is confident the likes of Ben Robinson, Ben Maguire and veteran backrower Brad McMillan are all still a chance of returning in 2019.
And so is Grace.
It’s easier to walk away when you win but it’s a challenge for me and the players, we’ll see how we go.Forbes Magpies coach Cameron Greenhalgh.
“There could be a few ... I wouldn’t have set any in concrete,” Greenhalgh said.
“Nothing is being pushed or anything but the bodies have had time to recuperate and there could be a few back.”
Grace has stated he’s taking 2019 off to devote his time to his growing family, a move the Forbes club is backing.
“We’ll give him a break and respect that decision but the way he loves his footy he’ll be hard to keep on the sidelines. That’s his call though. I definitely won’t rule anything out,” Greenhalgh added.
Greenhalgh admits defending a title is harder than winning one, the club found that out after claiming the 2016 title, snapping a 29-year premiership drought in the process.
But it’s a challenge he’s keen to tackle, as is the whole squad – the only definite absentee for all of 2019 will be Penrith Panthers bound fullback Charlie Staines.
Fijians Ponipate Musunrmasi, Richard Fiu and two-try grand final hero Mosese Qionimacawa have indicated they’ll be back in 2019, much to the delight of Greenhalgh.
He also added the club was in discussions with a couple of potential signings.
“It’s easier to walk away when you win but it’s a challenge for me and the players, we’ll see how we go,” he added.
“We’ll take the new season in and keep the boys focused.”
Jason Kennedy will return after coaching the juniors to the 2018 title while Damien Kennedy takes the reins of the reserve grade side.
“Damien’s experience will be great for the club too, and he’ll pull on the boots as well and that should cause some headaches,” Greenhalgh laughed.