New coach for the Stingrays
INCOMING Stingrays coach John Rangihuna says one of his priorities will be to close the divide between the Sunshine Coast's premier rugby outfit and the local clubs.
Rangihuna is intent on getting the most from the region's undoubted talent stocks but says he needs to forge better links between the respective parties.
"I reckon my phone bill is going to be shocking because I've made 40-50 phone calls to local players and I have spoken to coaches and I spoke to a club president last night to try and get the support of the clubs to support the Stingrays, which I felt hasn't been there in the past," he said.
"I truly believe if the Stingrays are going to be a success they need the support of the clubs and the local players.
"I came from Christchurch and everybody in the competitions there wanted to play for the Crusaders (regional rep team) and that's what everybody on the Sunshine Coast should be doing.
"Every senior player and junior player should want to represent the Stingrays in the best competition in Queensland."
Rangihuna, who knows the local rugby scene better than most after steering University to the Sunshine Coast Rugby Union A-grade premiership last season, was unveiled as the coach yesterday.
He replaced Brett Picone, who did not re-apply for the position after the Rays missed out on a finals berth in 2011 after reaching the grand final the previous year.
Rangihuna will focus on player retention at the Stingrays but also believes there are players at local clubs who could be unearthed with the Rays next year.
"I was lucky enough to see most local players this year and I got a good look at everybody and trust me there's plenty of talent there," he said. "They're screaming out for an opportunity."
Rangihuna started encouraging local players to try out for the 2012 Stingrays squad, even before he was announced as coach.
"I don't know if I put the cart before the horse but I was confident enough in my own coaching ability that I'd have a crack at this position
and I'm fortunate enough to have the opportunity now," he said.
Rangihuna said the players he had contacted would be given an opportunity to press their claims for a berth in the Rays squad at pre-season training and during trial runs. He is also considering hosting an open trial.
"There will be no excuses for locals out there saying they didn't get an opportunity," he said.
Rangihuna was coach of a senior team in the Canterbury competition, where he was able to learn from then Crusaders coach Robbie Deans.
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