The Tumut Bulls might only be in the early stages of their rebuild, but incoming second grade coach, Kevin Keogh, is confident the club can be competitive in both the first and second grade Southern Inland Rugby Union competitions.
“We should be aiming to win a premiership,” Keogh said.
“There should be ample blokes to put out a strong side, and our goal for second grade should be to win the comp.”
The long-time Bull debuted way back in 2003, playing six seasons before moving overseas and playing rugby with Millwall Rugby Club for three seasons.
Keogh has since returned to the fold in 2019 and he wants to see Tumut rugby strong again.
“I finished school in 2002 and I started working for Chappy (Mat Chapman) in early 2003 and part of that was for me to play with the Bulls,” Keogh said.
“I had never played rugby, I was a fit 18-year-old and played junior rugby league for Gundagai Tigers under 16s and 18s, but Chappy gave me a chance and it was a good time.
“We built up to a grand final, we had a couple of really good seasons up until then and I would like to see us get back to that same success.”
In recent seasons, the Bulls have lost key players and lost more games than they have won, and Keogh hopes to help incoming first grade coach, Ray Wells, bring back some of those older heads and help the club attract new talent.
“Back when I was first involved, it was a good time to be part of the club, we were attracting the Luke Watsons, the Matt Webbs and even Dave Turnbull had a run with us,” Keogh said.
“We had some very good players, and I want to see the club attracting those good players again.”
Keogh also wants to work closely with new president, David West, as the club looks to focus on their culture first, hoping success follow.
“The club has a family environment, and I was keen to be a part of that because that is one of the best things about the Bulls,” Keogh said.
“Westy is a great bloke and the right person to be leading the club, but it surprised me, I wasn’t actually thinking about coaching, but he approached me and I couldn’t say no.
“Don’t get me wrong, it took him months to twist my arm, but with a baby and university, I didn’t know if I could do a good enough job, but I am confident I can now.”
As far as motivation to coach second grade, Keogh said it was a mixture of things, touching on the chance to give back to the club, whilst he also had a desire to make second grade a platform for future first grade players.
“When I first moved back to Tumut, I did want to volunteer and give back to the club,” Keogh said.
“For me, reserve grade is not about playing second grade, but wanting to play first grade and it is my job in helping get those players who are on the fringe, by improving them and getting them into first grade.
“We always want a second-grade team that will push first grade, we will play a style of rugby that the first-grade coach wants to play, so that way, if an injury happens, we have players ready to step into first grade.”
Keogh said he would work closely with Wells, who is expected to bring a new style of rugby to the club, and he believes players, both past and present, are excited and willing to get involved this year.
“It will be all hands-on deck to get the club back to where it should be, and with the appointment of Ray, that will bring a fair bit of excitement,” Keogh said.
“I have been talking to a few blokes who were going to come back and they all thought it sounded like a good time to get involved.”
Bulls president, Dave West, was very pleased to announce Keogh had taken on the second-grade coaching gig.
“We really wanted Kev just because of his commitment,” West said.
“When he does something, he does it 100% and he wants to be there, plus his playing experience, it was a massive factor.”
Keogh is also expected to pass on his years of knowledge to the next generation of Bulls players.
“He is a very handy footballer and has a good knowledge of the game,” West said.
“Plus, he is a good all-round bloke and the fellas will get behind him.”
Numbers shouldn’t be an issue for the Bulls this year, with the club hesitant to nominate a third-grade team, instead wanting to focus on men’s first and second grade, and Bullettes rugby.
“If we don’t get the numbers to training, we won’t nominate a third-grade side,” West said. “It’s up to those blokes to come to training and it’s a financial thing, so at the moment, we will just focus on first and second grade.” the game and support the club