THE Waratah Tigers are on the hunt for a new coach after the retirement of long-serving club favourite Danny Graham.
The 29-year-old shared coaching duties this season with former Group 20 representative Viliami Ngu but neither will be at the helm in 2014.
Ngu will play on, but Graham has decided to hang up the boots, citing persistent injuries and a lack of enjoyment as the key factors.
“I couldn’t play a full season this year –my body just couldn’t handle it anymore,” he said.
“I was getting injured a lot and with work, it was getting hard.
“I wasn’t enjoying it as much as I used to, either.”
Graham revealed he was at the brink of retirement when the 2013 season drew to the close but the Waratahs’ struggles over the last few years were at the forefront of his mind when he opted to continue his career.
While the 10-time premiers won just one game in their 50th anniversary year, Graham believes the ’Tahs are far better placed now than they were 12 months ago.
“The club was struggling a bit and I wanted to help out. I didn’t want to see them fold or anything. That was why I played on,” he said.
“I think we’re in a better position now than where we were last year.
“We are looking to sign players now – we haven’t normally done that in the off-season.
In the past it’s been whoever turns up, and then we might sign one or two. But things are looking positive.”
Graham also threw his support behind the club’s pursuit of ex-Canberra Raiders fullback David Milne, who will return to Griffith to live next month.
The Area News revealed last week that Milne, who will line up this weekend for the Mackay Cutters in their Queensland Cup preliminary final, is in talks with the Waratahs, Yenda and his junior club, the Black and Whites, over a deal to play in Group 20 next season.
Milne has ruled himself out as a captain-coach option but Graham said he was exactly the kind of player the ‘Tahs need.
“He’s a quality player. I think he got top tryscorer in the Queensland Cup so he knows how to score a try and just his experience, it’d be something good for the club if he did come,” he said.
“We’ve got a good group of blokes who are keen and show up every week – we’re missing those one or two impact players, the quality players that stand out. They’d really help.”
In a year of more downs than ups for the Waratahs, Graham said the gallant 30-18 loss to grand finalists Leeton in round 12 was the highlight of the season.
“If it was any other club, we probably wouldn’t have had a side,” he said.
“But everyone turned up, even though everyone had it in their mind we wouldn’t win that game.
“A lot of clubs this year were struggling for players to turn up to training – we didn’t have too much of a problem with that.
“We had the majority of players turn up every week for training and for the games and there were only a few every now and then that couldn’t make it.
“They still showed up, still put in 100 per cent and we got close to them. That’s all you can ask for as a coach.”