Putting the growl back in the Cougars
By GLEN SCOTT
AFTER a forgettable season culminating in the wooden spoon, the Casino rugby league club has announced former Queensland State-of-Origin player Cavill Heugh as their first-grade coach for next year.
The Cougars' prized signing has arrived at the club with an impressive list of career achievements.
That list includes playing stints with Eastern Suburbs and Ipswich in Brisbane, the Illawarra Steelers in the then Winfield Cup (now NRL) and Halifax, Leeds, Barrow and the London Broncos in England.
Heugh captain-coached Ipswich in 1997 before taking the helm at Brisbane Easts, the club which kick-started his playing career in 1981.
But while his CV is enviable, records don't do justice to the true value the former prop will bring to the Cougars.
His former coaches include Wayne Bennett of the Brisbane Broncos, former Parramatta and NSW Origin coach Terry Fearnley and all-time greats Bob McCarthy and Arthur Beetson.
Heugh was also selected for the Maroons in the mid-1980s alongside luminaries such as Wally Lewis, Mal Meninga and Gene Miles in Queensland's magical era in interstate contests.
Former first-grade coach Andrew Bartlett has welcomed Heugh and feels it is just the tonic to turn around the Cougars' fortunes.
"He brings experience," Bartlett said.
"He has a plan in mode and wants to be here for two years.
"We also have players returning to the team who weren't around this year."
Asked which players were returning after sitting out this season, Bartlett was non-committal.
"I don't want to say anything yet," he said.
"In a few weeks we may be able to reveal more."
Morale this year remained high, with players keen to atone for their disappointing showing.
"It's been good," Bartlett said.
"Blokes from the first-grade team haven't put their hands up and said 'That's it'.
"They're keen to go around again and don't want to have (this year's) results two years in a row."
So, new coach, returning players, a chance for redemption ? the perfect script for an early return to pre-season training?
"There'll be a few training runs before Christmas ? gym, Touch ? but a lot of the guys play cricket and will be hard to get hold of," Bartlett said.
"We should start properly in early January, though he (Heugh) may not realise how hot it is here at that time of year!"