TAKING CHARGE: Hamilton officially re-signed Scott Coleman as coach this week.THREE-time premiership-winning Hamilton coach Scott Coleman said the disappointment of losing last year’s Newcastle and Hunter Rugby Union grand final to Merewether had fuelled his desire to take the Hawks reins for another season.
Nanjing Night Net

Coleman was officially appointed this week to take charge for his seventh campaign. Last year’s co-coach, Nathan Beckett, did not apply.

Former NSW Country coach Paul Nixon has returned to the Hawks and will help during pre-season when Coleman fulfils his role as the Newcastle representative coach.

The Hawks, who were chasing back-to-back titles, lost 20-16 to the Greens in the decider in September.

‘‘Going so close in the grand final has given me that hunger to have another crack,’’ Coleman said.

‘‘At this stage most of the players have indicated they are coming back.

‘‘Damien Wells is training with the Knights [NSW Cup] side at the moment, but we should know what he is doing at the end of January.

‘‘The only area we probably need to strengthen is the outside backs.

‘‘A bit more speed on the wings wouldn’t hurt.

‘‘Merewether are the team to beat again and hopefully we can make amends.’’

Coleman said Nixon’s return was a ‘‘massive bonus’’.

‘‘He is a very good coach and has the players’ respect.’’

Meanwhile, the front row is looming as a problem for Newcastle in their quest for a fifth straight NSW Country title.

Only five of the 11 Coleman named in a train-on squad have committed to play. Merewether and NSW Country prop Dylan Evans, who has joined Sydney University, is the biggest loss.

Apart from the front row, NSW Country winger Dave Kennedy (overseas), Merewether winger Bill Coffey (overseas), former New Zealand Maori representative Hayden Pedersen (work) and Maitland five-eighth Matt Jarrett (work) and breakaway John Birrell (work) are unavailable.