As he passes another coaching milestone at one of Rugby League’s proudest clubs, Greg Matterson has delivered major news to Newtown Jets fans: retirement is now in sight.
Matterson, who first took on the Newtown coaching role in 2008, notched up 250 games for the club in their Round 5 match against the Dragons – reaffirming his place in the Jets’ 110-year history. Now sitting ahead of charismatic Newtown mentor Colin Murphy in games coached at the club, the 57-year-old has revealed to NSWRL.com.au that the end is near.
“I’m just happy I’ve been a long-term servant of the club, they’ve been good to me and I feel like I’ve put a lot into them,” Matterson says. “I’ve been here a long time, realistically it’s not going to go on forever.
“I’m not far off handing the banner on to somebody else, but that will be done with making sure that the club’s in good stead to carry on.
“I’m getting near the end.”
While Matterson did not outline a timeframe for his retirement plans – and the 2012 premiership-winning coach could yet lead the side again next season – the news only makes 2018 an even more important one for the Jets. Their first home game of the year ended in a 18-10 loss to the Dragons on Saturday, and Matterson has a much greater focus than his individual achievements.
“At the end of the day, it’s a disappointing day for me when we don’t win,” Matterson says. “The milestones are probably good at the end to look back on but in the present, I’m just looking to win footy games.
“We’re just lacking a bit of patience. We’ve got some really good young blokes who like to attack, but it’s part of their learning curve to build pressure, build a game and manage a game. Hopefully we learn from what we’re doing wrong at the moment.
“We were pretty brave (against the Dragons) but that doesn’t get you the two points – we were pretty dumb early in that second half.”
Adding to Matterson's 2018 challenge is the period of transition which the Jets are currently going through. Ahead of Round 6, the club has once again named the youngest spine in the Intrust Super Premiership NSW, consisting of fullback Will Kennedy, five-eighth Jack Williams, halfback Kyle Flanagan and hooker Blayke Brailey.
“Our halfback and our hooker are both 19 and our fullback and our five-eighth are 20, so the spine is really young,” Matterson says. “Three out of four of them are full-time, so they’re getting good education.
“It’s about their game management that they just need to keep working on because they’ve got natural ability, it’s obvious."
The next task for Newtown will be a desperate Newcastle outfit, with the two teams to clash at Cessnock Sports Ground from 3pm on Saturday.
“When you’ve got to travel it’s always tough, a couple of hours' bus trip up there and you’ve got to be really motivated. We just need to tidy up what we’re doing and build more pressure.
“All footy games are won by controlling the footy... If you haven’t got the footy you can’t win the game.”