REGARDLESS of whether Brad Tighe laces up the boots again next year, the former NRL player will definitely be continuing his role as head coach at the Northern Hawks.
Tighe has put his hand up to once again steer the ship at the Port Stephens-based club as they prepare for promotion to the Newcastle Rugby League first-grade competition in 2022.
The Northern Hawks have been given the green light by the Newcastle RL board and are hoping to receive official confirmation from NSW Rugby League this week.
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"I've put my hand up. I've decided to go around again and captain-coach. I'm looking forward to it," Tighe told the Newcastle Herald.
Tighe, who turns 38 in April, played a combined 171 NRL games for the Knights, Panthers and Titans between 2005 and 2015.
The outside back, originally from Moree, then joined Newcastle RL club Wests from 2016 and won a premiership in his final appearance for the Rosellas in 2019.
This year the Newcastle Hawks, another new venture in men's community competitions, and the Nelson Bay Sharks, who already had an under 19s side, opted to combine forces.
Together they created the Northern Hawks in 2021 and fielded three teams - reserves, 19s and A-grade.
Most impressively the Hawks, bolstered by the likes of Tighe, Jade Porter and Warren Schillings, claimed the Newcastle RL minor premiership in reserves having dropped only one match before COVID-19 saw play was abandoned.
"There was a handful of older guys but really a lot of younger guys we gave an opportunity to play against men," Tighe said.
"Reserve grade local league is no push over so to give those boys that sort of exposure week in and week out, I think we had a successful year.
"We finished on top and can walk away and say we gave it a good crack, especially leading into next year."
Tighe said coaching has been "something that grows on you" and although he "wasn't going to go down that path" initially, feels satisfied seeing players "develop in front of your eyes".
He reckons playing again "isn't set in stone", but would consider filling in if required and try to avoid blocking emerging talent.
Tighe admits there has "been interest from other boys wanting to jump on board" at the Hawks, but knows he needs to take the points system into account before signing players.
Josh Griffiths and Jarom Haines, previously at Cessnock and Maitland respectively, could be potential candidates.
In terms of next year's Newcastle RL competition NSWRL have been in the process of reviewing expressions of interest, recently submitted by Northern Hawks and the 10 existing clubs.
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