Al Lantry can’t remember the last time no Coalfields clubs featured in the Newcastle Rugby League first grade finals series.
And the 29-year-old doesn’t want to see it happen again, especially now he has taken over as captain-coach of the Cessnock Goannas.
“My main goal is to get us back up into the semi-finals,” Lantry said.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen it without the Coalfields sides in there. And it seems to be if Kurri or Maitland or Cessnock are doing well the others react as well.”
Lantry, who was officially appointed to the role on Friday night, knows that Coalfields rivalry better than most having been a long-serving player at the club previously and featuring in five losing grand finals between 2008 and 2014.
After a few years away traveling overseas, including a season playing for English club Leigh East, Lantry arrived home last week.
He’d always intended to play again for the Goannas next season but hadn’t initially heard about 2017 coach Steve Kidd parting ways with the club earlier this month while midway through a two-year deal.
The lock contacted Kidd, who encouraged him to apply, and now he’s looking forward to a new challenge
“I actually can’t wait,” he said. “It’s something I’ve always wanted to do and thought maybe in another two years, but I feel ready to do it now.”
Lantry said Shaun Collingwood was expected to be his assistant coach in 2018.