With Dean Bristow announcing before the Group 9 grand final that he was hanging up the boots in 2021, and Lachlan Bristow expected to head up north to take up new playing opportunities, the Tumut Blues had been working overtime to find their replacements.
Yet, after an emotional tribute to Dean and his time with Tumut at the club’s awards presentation on Saturday night, the Blues followed up with a surprise announcement of their own.
In a small speech, a jubilant Bryan Black garnered the applause of the room after explaining that Lachlan would be staying on for another year and would be joined by popular front rower Zac Masters.
Masters explained just how everything came to fruition in such a short amount of time
“Obviously Dean is retiring, and he wants to step away from coaching for a bit and the club was left up in the air a little bit with what they were going to do,” Masters said.
“The club spoke to Hook (Lachlan Bristow), as he was looking to go elsewhere, but luckily enough he has decided to stay and hopefully we can continue our current success into next year.”
The 23-year-old said he never expected to be coaching the club at such a young age but couldn’t hide his excitement when discussing the new role.
“I guess I never thought I would be in this position at my age, but it’s a great step for me and it will be a big learning curve in the next year or so,” Masters said.
“It’s a great honour and hopefully we can continue that success.”
Masters had no intention of making any major changes either, instead expressing his desire to maintain the culture created by his predecessors.
“I would just like to continue this mateship and hard work that Dean, Lachlan and Adam (Pearce) have brought into the side in the last couple of years,” Masters said.
“They have built a great culture in the club; we are all good mates and it’s important we continue that into next year.”
Lachlan Bristow was excited to have Masters on board as a coach, highlighting his experience at higher levels as a massive attribute for the club.
“It’s good, obviously Zac and Dean are best mates and I am really looking forward to it. He has a lot to offer and I’m excited to work with him,” Lachlan said.
“He just adds that bit of experience, with the systems he has been involved in and I’m sure it will play a massive role in his coaching style and we all know he is a quality player, so
I’m expecting him to bring a lot.”
The returning captain/coach said locking in coaches this early would help the club negate the expected exodus of players by creating a playing list capable of going one better in 2021.
“That’s our next step, we wanted to lock in the coaches first, and we have done that pretty early on,” Bristow said.
“Our next step is to look at the recruitment and retention and build a good squad and go from there.”
Outgoing Blues captain/coach Dean Bristow said he felt good leaving the coaching to his younger brother and Masters.
“I’m definitely confident they can do the job, that’s why I went that year extra this year, just so the club wouldn’t go by the wayside,” Dean said.
“I wouldn’t have stepped aside if I didn’t think they could do the job and I have full confidence I can step aside, and the club will continue to have success, if not more success.”