Rovers coach ready to make tough calls

LUKE McWaide is confident he can handle the demands of both playing and coaching as he continues to plot a course for Football Far North Coast success with Richmond Rovers.

The 24-year-old is embarking on his first season as player/head-coach with the Lismore side and is finalising preparations for the forthcoming league season.

It promises to be an exciting but tough challenge for the former Sydneysider, with the club aiming to extend its proud recent record at premier division level.

McWaide, who is likely to be an influential presence in his side's central midfield, said he was unconcerned about the dual pressures.

"I'm loving it at the moment," he said. "I think the guys know that, socially, I will be around for a beer, but when it comes to picking a team, it's all about the club.

"Once you cross that white line, it's about doing your job as a player. I won't be thinking about anything else apart from helping the team.

"We have a tight club here and we try to improve players as footballers, whoever they are."

Pre-season preparations have not been helped by the bad weather, with all clubs in the league forced to make alternative arrangements.

While game time has been scarce, Rovers had been hosting training sessions, including boxing and punishing runs up Lismore's Cynthia Wilson Drive, to build stamina levels.

"I am quite happy with the fitness levels we've shown," McWaide said.

"It's going to be tough picking a side. I hope the guys know that I am trying to do whatever is best for the club."

The club will start among the favourites for this season's competition after their impressive recent record at senior level.

Rovers are traditionally formidable opponents, having reached finals series in FFNC premier and reserve premier grade competition in recent seasons.

After taking the premier division minor premiership in 2012, the campaign ended in heartbreak for Rovers with a tough loss to rivals Lismore Workers in the grand final.

Although a relative novice in the hot seat, McWaide is aiming high this season.

"The top three is my goal," he said.

"If we do not make that then I think the season will be disappointing as a coach."

McWaide thanked fellow coaches and the club's committee for their support so far.

The club's Tursa Employment and Training Anzac Cup clash at Byron Bay tomorrow was still on at the time of writing.

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