Being the fourth coach in as many seasons new Wests mentor Matt Lantry knows the pressure to succeed at Harker Oval.
After two years in charge of the Knights’ NSW Cup side, Lantry was officially announced on Tuesday as the Rosellas head coach for 2017.
The 32-year-old takes over from Steve Storrie who, along with predecessor Dean Botham, had just 12 months in charge at Wests and fell one game short of a Newcastle Rugby League grand final appearance. Prior to that Craig Miller steered the men in green, red, black and white to a premiership three-peat.
“Wests demand success, that’s why they are so great,” Lantry said.
“There’s an element of pressure there if I’m being absolutely honest with myself, but I try not to think about that. I know I’ve got a job to do, but if I worry about that it could affect the potential outcomes we want to gain. I need to go in, get two feet on the ground and go from there.”
The Australian Schoolboys representative grew up in a Hunter rugby league family and once donned the Rosellas jersey towards the end of his playing days in 2005.
It came after the West Maitland and Morpeth junior clinched Harold Matthews and SG Ball titles with the Knights in consecutive seasons, followed by two years at Parramatta.
It was at the Eels club the centre did a traineeship, which led to a 10-year tenure at the Knights off the field in game development. Most recently Lantry was at the helm for a NSW Cup premiership with Newcastle in 2015.
“We used 52 players to win the competition that year,” Lantry said.
“So the greatest thing I have learned at that level, outside the actual experience itself, was the player management element.”
Wests have not announced any signings for next season but Lantry said “85 per cent” of the current squad will go around again. The main departure is prop Jake Finn, who has joined former Rosellas teammate Brad Murray at Central Newcastle under new Butcher Boys mentor Miller.
Meanwhile, two-time runner’s-up Macquarie welcome the return of outside back Mitch Manson from England in 2017 and have re-signed most of their exisiting roster including NRL Rookie contestant Chris Hyde, player of the year Blake Gallen, NSW Country representative Josh Schmiedel, playmaker Scott Briggs and skipper Andy Sumner.
Lakes, who on Tuesday announced the arrival of former Knights utility Matt Hilder and the reappointment of coach Dean Noonan, have agreed to terms with recently crowned NSW Country player of the year Chris Adams but have lost James De Saxe who heads home to Batemans Bay.
Cessnock have landed Jake McNamara (Knights 20s) and Kurt Warden (Wyong) along with the return of Joe Woodbury and Jake Watts from Central while Brendan Hlad has retired.
Premiership winning captain-coach Todd Hurrell has yet to decide on his playing future with Ben Cross taking over as coach at Souths after last month’s grand final win.
Maitland have lost Jayden Rosberg to Souths while Kurri Kurri have re-signed Terence Seu Seu.