Loved-up Kotara Bears couple Dylan McInherny and Jacqui Moriarty are hoping their winning partnership off the paddock flows into on-field triumphs for the club, too.
The pair, who’ll tie the knot next month after almost a decade together, will coach the organisation’s men’s and women’s (league tag) teams respectively in the 2021 Newcastle and Hunter Community Rugby League (NHCRL) competition.
McInherney led the Bears to a grand final appearance in 2020, while Moriarty savoured victory as a member of the South Newcastle Lions in the Newcastle Rugby League (Real NRL) decider.
“In my first year [here], we were rolled in the finale and, unfortunately, history repeated itself last season,” he said.
“We lost to the Kearsley Crushers by four points, I think.
“But, NHCRL is fairly strong – and was even more so in 2020. A lot of guys returned to play for their junior clubs, due to the various changes brought about by COVID-19.
“Fingers crossed we can get the chocolates this time around.”
As for Moriarty, the Lions accounted for the Maitland Pickers to cap off the perfect “blues tag” year.
“We enjoyed a very successful season at Souths,” she said.
“The girls went through undefeated, winning the grand final in the process. I couldn’t have asked for more than that.
“However, there’s been a big change in structure over at South Newcastle; they’ve moved into women’s tackle [this year] as opposed to league tag.
“That’s the main reason for my shift to Kotara.
“Being 54kg and a high school teacher, I’m not really interested in the tackle side of things.
“Despite that, I think the timing was right to come over – and challenge myself as a coach and player.
“It will be good to be at the same club as Dylan, too.
“We were kind of going our separate ways every weekend last season.
“So, it’ll be a nice change.”
Their commitment to the Bears will be put on hold, somewhat, when McInherny and Moriarty exchange vows on 10 April.
“As luck would have it, our wedding day coincides with the first round of the comp,” he said.
“Then we’re darting off on our honeymoon, so we’ll probably miss the opening three weeks.
“I’m sure we’ll come home stronger after that.
“To be honest, Jacqui’s probably got more of an idea [about league] than me,” he added with a laugh.
“However, I’m looking forward to being with her, at the club, this year.
“Hopefully, we can find some success together on the field because off the field, we will be.”
And, as for their 2021 aspirations, apart from a “happily ever after”, McInherny and Moriarty both share similar hopes for the Bears.
“I’ve got the core squad from last season, so making the semis is our first goal,” he said.
“We’ve had a good run, but we can’t go into 2021 expecting to make the grand finals like the past couple of years.
“It will take a lot of hard work.
“Obviously, I’d love to see the boys go one better than 2020.
“But, it’s difficult to tell how strong the opposition will be.
“There are still numerous unknowns at this stage.
“However, one thing about this comp, you know there’s so many good teams out there.
“We’ll just concentrate on our own game and hope everything falls into place.”
Moriarty also faces “a bit of uncertainty”, too, with Kotara making its debut in the women’s league tag format.
“Due to the changes, I’m expecting a few sides to drop back with the emergence of tackle in the Real NRL comp, like Central,” she said.
“We’ll have about six players from Souths, mixed with a lot of newcomers.
“So, I’m not certain what the quality of the other teams will be like.
“Our aim is to reach the semis.
“I’ve been very successful at Souths; it would be nice to continue that run with the Bears.
“And, I’m confident we can.
“But, it’s also about teaching the girls who haven’t played before some skills – and make sure they’re enjoying the game as well.”