JAMY Forbes says he often thought about returning to Newcastle Rugby League.
A Cessnock junior who went onto play seniors for the Goannas, win a premiership with Macquarie in 1991 and claim a NSW Country title as part of the Rebels representative squad.
The time has now arrived via an unexpected coaching avenue.
Forbes is reuniting next year with his long-time Central Coast club The Entrance, who joined the Newcastle RL competition in 2021.
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"It's something I always wanted to do, coaching back in the Newcastle competition," Forbes told the Newcastle Herald.
"I probably thought it would be with Cessnock, but now (with The Entrance joining) it'll be against them so that makes it interesting."
Forbes, who played a NSWRL reserve-grade grand final for Balmain in 1997, has been based on the Central Coast for the best part of two decades.
He helped The Entrance clinch Sydney's Ron Massey Cup three times, most recently as a coach in 2014. Previously, when known as the Jim Beam Cup, he was captain-coach in 2007 and skipper in 2003.
Having battled throat cancer, Forbes came back to rugby league and won the Central Coast crown with Terrigal in 2017 and was poised to join Berkeley Vale last year before play was cancelled because of coronavirus.
Earlier this year, prior to COVID-19 lockdowns, the former NSW Country best and fairest steered the Central Coast's representative side at the annual state championships.
Now a challenge awaits back with the Tigers.
"It came out of the blue a bit. About a month or so ago I saw the coaching application come up and I got itchy feet again," Forbes said.
"I'd been a bit consumed with work and I was getting cranky on the world and feeling sorry for myself. I just needed to get back into something I love.
"I'd been involved with the juniors [at The Entrance] coaching my son's side but not at the top level. It was hard to go watch sometimes because you want to be down on the sideline yelling out."
Forbes takes over from Shane Wooden and will co-coach with former Entrance teammate Ben O'Connell.
The Tigers, in their maiden Newcastle RL season, were on the edge of the top five when public health orders saw them sidelined after 12 rounds.
They won four games, including three of their first five and a local derby against Wyong, but lost eight.
"I think it gave a lot of the guys an insight into how tough it is up there. The core group going around again will certainly know what they're in for this time."
Elsewhere in the Newcastle RL coaching ranks, there have also been changes at Souths (Andrew Ryan), Kurri Kurri (Aaron Watts), Cessnock (Harry Siejka) and Lakes (Ian Bourke).
Mentors remain the same at Maitland (Matt Lantry), Macquarie (Steve Kidd), Wests (Todd Lowrie) and Wyong (Mitch Williams).
NSW Rugby League have yet to make a final call on next season with all clubs required to submit expressions of interest for 2022.
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