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REAL NRL: Garth Brennan answers Rebels yell for new coach

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Tooheys Newcastle Rugby League’s (Real NRL) impressive coaching stocks have been further enhanced by the addition of Garth Brennan to the ranks.

The former Gold Coast Titans mentor will oversee the Rebels’ representative outfit from 2024, taking over the reins of Adam Bettridge who stood down to take on the duties at the Central Newcastle Butcher Boys next season.

Already, the Real NRL boasts a high-calibre array of leaders, with the likes of Matt Lantry (Maitland Pickers), Andrew “Bobcat” Ryan (South Newcastle Lions), Harry Siejka (Cessnock Goannas), Jamy Forbes/Ben Connell (The Entrance Tigers), Mitch Williams (Wyong Roos), Rick Stone (Western Suburbs Rosellas), Jye Bayley (Macquarie Scorpions), Ian “Bubba” Bourke (Lakes United Seagulls), Brad Tighe (Northern Hawks) and Rip Taylor (Kurri Kurri Bulldogs).

But, for Brennan, he’s just happy to guide the Rebels to further success in the NSW Country Championships, without enduring the week-to-week grind of a regular position.

“I’m excited… in fact, it’s an honour and a privilege to have this role,” he said.

“Most people know I’m a passionate Novocastrian.

“So, I’m fully aware of how strong the competition is.

“I came through as a player (at Wests and Waratah-Mayfield) and began my coaching journey with the Rosellas’ reserve grade.

“Now, I have a chance to give back a little bit to Newcastle rugby league.

“It was probably the only job that could get me back into coaching, to be honest… I was enjoying my weekends off.

“And, there’s some really exciting talent that I’m looking forward to working with.”

The Rebels, back in the Country Championships fold for the first time since 2016, eliminated the Central Coast Roosters 36-14, Illawarra-South Coast Dragons 30-10 and Western Rams 46-18 before accounting for the Riverina Bulls 49-16 in the finale.

“I’ll admit, I didn’t get to see them play,” Brennan said.

“However, I know they produced the goods (under Adam).

“When I was asked to consider the role, I went around and watched a few games locally.

“Obviously, I’d followed the competition previously to that.

“But, I really took more of an interest when I was looking at doing the [rep] job.

“I truly believe Newcastle is the best country competition in Australia.

“It’s always been a flagship and we’ve always had the best young kids coming through our system.

“Unfortunately, it has lost its way in the past for some reason.

“However, my desire is to give young guys the chance to represent the town and, hopefully, go on to represent Country.

Now, I have a chance to give back a little bit to Newcastle rugby league.

Garth Brennan

“We’ve got the talent, it’s exciting, but I want guys to back themselves to be involved.

“I’m a coach who likes to train hard, play hard and be a hard team to beat.

“But, I also like to have a lot of fun along the way, so hopefully it’s enjoyable for everyone.

“At the same time, I can pass a little bit of my knowledge on to some of the younger players, too.”

Brennan said the Rebels door would be open to anyone.

“I’m not just looking at the young talent, there may be blokes who want to finish on a high note,” he told the Newcastle Weekly.

“You know, the guy who wouldn’t mind representing their town one more time or maybe going on to challenge themselves to make Country again.

“Whether it’s someone at the back end of his career, or someone who’s still got the light on, or a young kid still making his way, I want a blend of all that.

“And, whoever wants to be a part of it, I’m looking forward to working with them.”

One area that Brennan’s ruling out is a return to NRL coaching full-time.

The 51-year-old spent two seasons with the Titans between 2018 and 2019, after serving his apprenticeship with the Newcastle Knights and Penrith Panthers’ lower grades.

“I’m not considering it,” he said.

“The only reason this job got me back into the game is the fact I’m coaching my hometown and the players representing Newcastle.

“I achieved something pretty special by being an NRL coach.

“However, it was never what drove me… or my goal.

“My drive, and ambition, is just to help our young men be better people, so they can reach the highest level that they can possibly attain.

“My strength, I believe, is being able to nurture, mentor and, hopefully, have a positive impact on players.

“So, this is the perfect job for me.

“And, if I can help them achieve their dreams, that’s what puts a smile on my face.”

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