With the dust settled on a devastatingly short 2021 Charter Hall Shute Shield season, Clubland has become a flurry of coaching restructures and player acquisitions.
Check out the latest news breaking from around the grounds.
Blake’s back with the Marlins
The Manly Marlins have announced the return of former Head Coach Phil Blake for the 2022 Charter Hall Shute Shield season.
Blake returns to the club after stints with the North Harbour Rays and Leicester Tigers, before most recently taking over at Sydney University after previous Head Coach Rob Taylor was acquired by the NEC Green Rockets in Japan mid-way through last season.
The 57-year-old has already tasted success in Manly colours, steering the proud beaches club to the Shute Shield semi-finals in 2010.
However, Blake takes over the position in very different circumstances this time around, with the Marlins only securing two wins in 2021 and finishing the shortened season in eleventh position.
Marlins President, Cameron Douglas, said Blake was the perfect candidate in the club’s search for substantial on-field improvements.
“Phil has an impressive rugby CV and an intimate knowledge of the local rugby scene,” he said.
“His appointment means we can hit the ground running and begin our plans for 2022 right away.”
Given Blake’s successful rugby league career and recent coaching role with the Students, one can predict that defence will be the central focus early in this newest Manly tenure.
The Students boasted the second-best defensive record in the Shute Shield last season, conceding only 142-points across their nine matches. Comparatively, the Marlins ranked eleventh, yielding an average of 38-points each match in 2021.
Blake’s proven defensive resume will go a long way in improving that disturbing statistic and should fill Marlins fans with optimism for 2022.
“Manly is a great club with a proud history. I’m thrilled to be part of it again,” Blake said.
“There have been some big challenges over the last couple of seasons, but I believe there is a solid base and plenty for me to work with moving forward.”
Will Blake be the man to guide Manly back to the Shute Shield finals in 2022?
Highlanders welcome Rivers to the Clan
With a changing of the guard currently underway at the Two Blues, former Western Sydney Head Coach Joel Rivers is set to become a Stag in 2022.
Rivers will take charge of the club’s Second Grade side, a team which found itself joint leaders of the Colin Caird Shield last season, matching Easts on 36-points.
The announcement is just reward for Rivers’ fine coaching skill, having previously led the NSW Gen Blue Program and guiding the Students to four consecutive Colts premierships between 2010-2014.
A Gordon spokesperson stated, “Joel brings with him a wealth of knowledge and experience both as a coach and player at Shute Shield level.”
“Joel’s experience with developing young talent will be pivotal with a new crop of Colts transitioning through to Grade in 2022.
“We’re all excited to have Joel as part of the Clan next year.”