Group 20 rugby league
DARLINGTON Point-Coleambally has appointed Riverina rugby league veteran Jay Little as captain-coach for next season as the club turns its attention to building for the future.
Little, who spent this season with Group Nine outfit Temora, was headhunted by the Roosters hierarchy with the experienced halfback seen as the perfect candidate to bring through DPC's burgeoning next generation.
The Point is blessed with some of the best young talent in Group 20, having captured this year's under 16 title in a thrilling grand final win over Leeton.
It was the Roosters' third under 16s grand final appearance in as many years and their second successful one, while their under 18s team also fell one game short of the decider.
Little said he was excited about moulding the raw young talent at his disposal into a competitive first-grade team, even it means a bit of short-term pain in the interim.
"We're not expecting to finish on top or anything outlandish," he said.
"We're just trying to get these boys changing their culture and trying to get them working towards something. That's the main reason I'm coming over and the main reason they targeted me.
They're looking at changing their ways a bit and trying to educate and nurture the youngsters coming through.
"I've actually already got an insight on a couple of them, working with the CRL Academy sides at the moment.
"They just need someone to harness and develop that skill level and talent and I've been in a sort of development role helping out clubs that need to rebuild over the last few years.
"Most of the kids are staying around for another year so it's going to be very interesting."
Little takes over from Andrew Herbert, who hung up his boots at the end of last season.
He joins a club that underachieved in 2013, finishing seventh on the ladder - only above the two struggling Griffith clubs - amidst a wildly inconsistent Group 20 campaign.
Fortunately many of DPC's key men, including Nick Briggs, Sam Dalby, Richie Bamblett, Tongia Fox and Dean Chauncey will stick around for next year.
But while the recent loss of speed merchant Josh Bryant to Yenda will hurt, Little is confident the Point can make up for any departures through development.
Plenty is expected from the likes of promising hooker Deon Curphey, forward Trey Eldridge, utlity Matt O'Malley and halves options Jesse Forrester and Jack and Billy Robb going forward.
"That's where the future of football is, in the juniors," new president Steve Hogan said.
"We're one of the strongest clubs as far as junior levels go and we're just trying to get someone to structure them right and hopefully groom them to make us a successful club for years to come."
The Roosters are, however, likely to bring in some front-row reinforcements to protect their young stars.
This has become a priority with Josh Curphey set to make his switch to Yenda official over the coming days.
"He'll be a big loss for the club but if he leaves, it'll be on good terms. He has other things going on in life and Yenda's a lot closer to where he lives, geographically," Little said.
"We can only play with the cards we've been dealt.
"Other than that we'll develop our own and get a new sense of character out there."
But it will take more than just a few personnel changes for DPC's fortunes to turn around, especially given Herbert's frustrations this year with the wavering commitment levels out at the Point.
"We're looking to change the attitude of the club and make them realise it's a six-month thing, not a week-to-week thing," Little said.
"We need to set some goals and work really hard towards them and change our training culture as well."