A premiership win for Macquarie would mean so much to Jack Kavanagh he'd consider retiring on the spot.
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Kavanagh has been confirmed as the Raiders' coach for the 2024 Peter McDonald Premiership season, having done the job alongside Alex Ronayne this year.
Being back in the blue of Macquarie meant a huge amount to barnstorming prop in 2023 and the disappointment of missing out on finals has only further stoked the flames within.
Returning to the semi-final football and pushing for a first premiership win in first grade since 2012 for the proud club is the simple goal heading into next season.
"That's the only reason I play and there's a lot of blokes in this side who would say the same thing," Kavanagh said.
"We want to get that trophy and if I was to get a trophy I'd nearly contemplate retiring."
While Kavanagh is locked in, Ronayne's future remains up in the air with work commitments while running his own business dominating his schedule.
Rumours of a return to Dubbo CYMS have also been swirling but the Raiders insist no decision has been made yet and a meeting between the club and the back-rower is expected in the coming weeks.
"He's probably one of the biggest parts of this club. He's the reason why the club's on the up at the moment," Kavanagh said of his former co-captain-coach.
"I'm not too sure. I know obviously with his work it's pretty busy and it can be hard to commit with business and family and kids and that sort of stuff.
"Hopefully he goes around another year and plays footy and plays with us."
The 2023 season was another hugely frustrating one for Kavanagh, Ronayne and the Raiders.
Inconsistent performances resulted in leads being thrown away in close games and six matches were lost by 10 or less points.
Suspensions - two of those for Kavanagh - and injuries also set the side back and they finished the regular season outside the top four in the Group 11 pool with just four wins to their name.
For Kavanagh, it was a huge learning experience in his first year in a coaching role and he's now determined to put those lessons to use as he goes out on his own.
"I obviously had higher expectations than that, but through all the injuries, suspensions and stuff like that we were not able to have the depth and that hurt us in crucial times of the year," he said.
"It (coaching) has helped me in my own personal game as well.
"It's sort of taken the selfishness out of myself. I've become more of a team player and working towards structures and different points in the game.
"You're not just an individual player or an individual role, you've got to map out the whole team so I think it's opened my eyes up more to the games itself."
Keeping players on the park will ensure the depth is improved in 2024 and the Raiders at this stage are hopeful the only major departure will be Blake Merritt, who's heading back to Sydney and the Canterbury Bulldogs.
The club will remain on the lookout for new signings though as it strives to make ground on the likes of rivals CYMS, who won the PMP premiership this year.
"I was happy with our squad last year. We had a very strong squad," the captain-coach said.
"As I said, the injury and suspension factors hurt us a lot.
"But we're hoping to retain most of, if not all players from last year, but if some players pop up and we can (sign them) then we'll definitely be happy to have them and add some more depth to the squad."
Raiders president Jarryd Meredith said the club was delighted to have Kavanagh in the coaching role for next season.
"We're excited to have Kav recommit to us. He's still learning that coaching side but we saw enough in him this year to keep him on and give him another crack. We think he has a lot to offer," Meredith said, before also touching on Ronayne's future.
"He's running his own business now and it's really kicking a lot of goals and it involves a fair bit of out-of-town work and on top of that he's got a young family with five kids.
"We didn't want to put that pressure on him ... he's certainly a massive part of our plans and what we're trying to build towards and that hasn't changed at all.
"At the moment he's enjoying the off-season."
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