While he might be a new face to the Tooheys Newcastle Rugby League (Real NRL) faithful, Rebels mentor Aaron Watts is no stranger to the rigours of coaching in the elite ranks.
He’s overseen many sides throughout New South Wales, including Parkes and Tumbarumba, as well as Hunter Valley Group 21 and Northern Division rep teams.
He also guided the NSW Country under-18s for six years and enjoyed success at senior level with the Scone Thoroughbreds.
In 2018, the club secured all four grades, culminating in an upset victory over rivals Aberdeen Tigers 10-6 at McKinnon Oval.
The Thoroughbreds then backed it up a season later, at home, crushing the same opponents 40-6, with well-known Real NRL figures Adam Clydsdale and current Western Suburbs coach Todd Lowrie leading the way.
“I won a couple of comps [with Scone], including one against the odds,” Watts told the Newcastle Weekly.
“So, it isn’t something new to me – it’s just another challenge.
“A change of location from Scone to Newcastle has worked in my favour, so this is ideal for me.
“They’ve (Newcastle Rugby League) given me an opportunity to coach the Rebels, who’ve always been a strong team.
“It’s something I’m really looking forward to.
“So, I’d like to repay their faith.”
The Rebels – boasting the likes of Central Newcastle trio Cameron Anderson, Dylan Phythian and Kurt Donoghoe, Cessnock’s AJ Davis, Billy Gilbert, Connor Kirkwood, Robert Tuliatu, Tyrone Roberts-Davis, Joe Woodbury and Wyatt Shaw, Maitland trio James Taylor, Jayden Butterfield and James Bradley, Macquarie trio Royce Geoffrey, Luke Higgins and Matt Moon, Joe Bromage (West Newcastle) and Mitch Cullen (Kurri Kurri) – will contest the 2021 Tri Series this weekend.
“The selectors have done a good job,” Watts said.
“And, it’s a squad picked on form.
“I’m very happy with it.”
Newcastle tackles Illawarra at Wollongong on Sunday 16 May and then hosts Canberra at the Maitland Sportsground on Saturday 26 June.
NEWCASTLE REBELS SENIORS
(Coach Aaron Watts): Cameron Anderson (Central Newcastle), Joe Woodbury (Cessnock), Royce Geoffrey (Macquarie), Tyrone Roberts-Davis (Cessnock), James Bradley (Maitland), Dylan Phythian (Central Newcastle), AJ Davis (Cessnock), Jayden Butterfield (Maitland), Billy Gilbert (Cessnock), James Taylor (Maitland), Mitchell Cullen (Kurri Kurri), Wyatt Shaw (Cessnock), Luke Higgins (Macquarie); Matt Moon (Macquarie), Connor Kirkwood (Cessnock), Joe Bromage (West Newcastle), Robert Tuliatu (Cessnock), Kurt Donoghoe (Central Newcastle)