PEOPLE management is among the most difficult parts of coaching a first grade rugby league team.
That's the opinion of Mick Henry, captain-coach of Old Bar's side in this year's Group Three competition.
Henry took the reins of Old Bar's first grade side for the first time. The Pirates finished the competition-proper in third place and Henry was confident they were poised to make a charge at the big prize. The Pirates were the only southern club in contention in first grade.
However, the Statewide lockdown intervened and any hopes of the competition resuming have seemingly ended with the government decision to shut down community sport until November.
"It's unfortunate, but football doesn't come before other things in life,'' Henry philosophised.
"But it does leave a bitter taste in the mouth. It's a job half-finished.''
Henry has started talks with the club and hopes to have another crack at the position next year. He said he found the playing and coaching aspect of being captain-coach easy enough.
"But it was the things away from rugby league, my people management skills, were a bit of a learning curve,'' he explained.
The way the season ended pretty well summed up the campaign, Henry said. In many ways it was a frustrating year, starting with disruptions caused by floods while continuing unsettled weather caused further complications mid-year.
"At one stage we were never sure where we were going to train because fields were closed,'' Henry said.
"Then it was stop-start when games were postponed. We finally got a couple of games together and the comp was called off. But it was the same for all the clubs and everyone struggled with consistency, except for Wauchope.''
The Pirates had a slow start to the year, losing two of the first three games and Henry said that's something they'll have to work on in 2022.
If he's given the job again Henry said getting the majority of this year's roster re-signed will be the first priority. He's confident most will go around again. In the past the Pirates have had a tendency to follow a good year up with a few lean seasons and Henry wants to rectify that.
He wants the club to develop a winning culture and said the way to achieve that is to build a solid core of quality players in a manner similar to Port City and Wauchope.
"Winning becomes infectious then,'' he said.
Henry said rugby league is his passion and he enjoyed the coaching role.
"It's something I'd really like to get into - do some more courses and have a look at how other clubs do things,'' he said.
Henry sustained a broken jaw that sidelined him for six weeks. However, he only missed two games in that time due to the problems Group Three hit with wet weather and closed grounds.
The Pirates haven't won a first grade premiership since 1999 and Henry agrees they're overdue.
Henry hopes veterans play on
OLD Bar Pirates had three elder statesmen on their roster for this year's Group Three Rugby League season, prop Daniel Dumas, utility back Danny Russell and interchange player Steve Sansom.
Dumas was a gain from Port City; Russell, a former captain-coach, returned from a stint at the Wingham Tigers while Sansom ended considerable speculation when he made a comeback mid-season. He hadn't played since the 2013 season when the Pirates made the grand final.
Old Bar captain-coach Mick Henry isn't sure if they'll be back next year, although he hopes they decide to play on. He said their experience was invaluable.
Russell was also the side's most consistent goal kicker.
"They've all been around good football and they were a great help to me and to our younger players,'' Henry said.
"I know 'Rusty' (Russell) is keen to play on, but I don't know about Dan or Steveo. I guess they'll each have to talk to their missus first.''