Pirates stick with winning formula

Pirates have begun plotting their course for back to back Central North titles.

They produced the most dominant grand final performance for years, but Pirates coach Mat Kelly has no concerns about his side resting on their laurels.

After guiding them to their first premiership since 2012, Kelly will again hold the clipboard and is excited about where they can take their game

With the group of fellas we’ve got there’s still a real desire there to go back to back and see what we can produce,” he said.

He only stepped into the role late last season and was, truth be told, a bit apprehensive.

It was his first coaching gig.

There was no reluctance this time round though.

“I never considered coaching before. Now I really enjoy it,” Kelly said.

“Especially with the way we finished last year.”

They were simply brilliant.

He expects to have pretty much the same squad at his disposal in 2017.

As of last month, he didn’t know of anyone hanging up the boots.

“There’s still a real hunger within the group to succeed,” he said.

“The two losses and a draw we had didn’t sit well with the boys.”

Kelly capped off the year by being named Senior Coach of the Year at the Tamworth Regional Sports Awards, which he said was “very flattering”.

He goes into this season a year wiser as they say, and pointed to the off field responsibilities involved in the job as probably the biggest learning curve for him.

“The ins and outs of what’s required away from footy,” he said.

“Having to try and be a step ahead.”

Not surprisingly he said there was “not much” to change as far as the game plan.

They will begin training at the end of this month.

“We’ll look to go up to Armidale (Knockout) again and we’ve got a couple of trial games lined up,” Kelly said.

“Snake CrossFit has come on board again which is massive.

“They’ll do the program for us.”

Paul Newell and Kevin Rooney will look after second grade, Jack Walsh and Matt Grinter the 19s, Sean Tufrey and Chris Sartori the 17s and Andrew Bowden the newly-formed womens side.

They’ve already started training and have been drawing good numbers.