MATT Everitt has been given the all clear to return to rugby league and will take the reins as captain-coach of Taree City in next season's Group Three competition.
Everitt, 30, was diagnosed with testicular cancer in August, just before the start of the Group Three finals campaign. He was sidelined as Taree City battled their way through to the preliminary final, where they were eventually eliminated by Macleay Valley after a torrid battle at Kempsey.
“It was tough watching the boys in the finals, especially as they went so close,’’ Everitt said.
While he will have to undergo regular testing, Everitt said everything looks positive following his treatment for cancer.
“It’s a massive load off my mind and the same for my wife Sarah and family,’’ Everitt said.
He returned to Group Three last year after playing and coaching on the Central Coast. Everitt was the Group Three player of the year in 2016, although he admitted his form was down this year.
The Bulls have gone through some lean times since the club’s last premiership year in 2007 although the club has made the semi-finals for the past two years. However, Everitt is confident Taree has the roster to challenge for a title.
“I think the players lacked a bit of self belief,’’ he said.
“That’s one thing I noticed when I came here. Now after last season I think they know they can match it with the other sides.’’
He’s already spoken to the majority of players regarding next season and is confident they’ll be back in 2018. Everitt is also excited about the number of juniors coming through the ranks.
"It’s my job as coach to make sure the club has a strong junior base,’’ he said.
The Bulls will start training in mid-January.
“That’ll give the players a good holiday break and that’ll be about 12 weeks before the start of the season,’’ he said.
Gary Bridge, who has coached the Bulls for the past two years, will stay on board as the first grade manager.
Bulls to finalise coaches
TAREE City president Mal Dixon said the remainder of the coaching appointments for the 2018 Group Three Rugby League season will be announced at the annual meeting on October 29.
“(First grade captain-coach) Matt wanted some input with the other coaching appointments,’’ Mr Dixon said.
Everitt will take over as first grade coach from Gary Bridge, who has steered the side for the past two years, taking the side to the minor semi in 2016 and the final this season.
The Bulls were the only club in Group Three to have all four teams qualify for the semi-finals in 2017. However, the club wasn’t represented in grand final day.