Former NRL hooker Aaron Gorrell has been through the ups and downs of a sometimes fickle Rugby League world, preparing him for his biggest challenge yet.
An 84-game veteran of the NRL (60) and Super League (24) having spent time with the St George Illawarra Dragons, then Catalans Dragons, and finally the Brisbane Broncos from 2002-2009, the 42-year-old will take the reins at Wagga Brothers in Group 9 competitions.
The proud Rugby League club did not field a first grade team this year but plans to return in 2024, and it will be Gorrell steering the ship.
“With them not playing first grade last year, it’s going to be a challenge, but one I’m looking forward to,” Gorrell said.
“It will be hard and it’s not like I’m walking into a club that has recently played finals or anything, and with the points system, it’s going to be a challenge to recruit an entire first grade squad - we’ll have our work cut out for us, but we can do it.
“We’ll be on the paddock, and we’ll be competitive, and with how things look already I’ll be disappointed if we are not playing finals.”
After retiring from the NRL, the popular coach carved out an exceptional coaching and playing career with the Queanbeyan Kangaroos in the Canberra Cup competition.
He coached Cooma before taking on representative coaching roles with Group 9 and the Riverina Bulls.
Gorrell could have easily coasted along in representative coaching, but he explained that persistent Brothers president Mitch Dunn got him over the line and committed to next year’s campaign.
“Mitch Dunn called me a few years back, and we had a quick chat. But at the time, I had already committed to coaching Cooma, and I couldn’t go back on my word,” Gorrell said.
“He called me again recently, and we were about to go on a cruise, and he asked again, and I said I wanted to get it done either way that day. So it was pretty quick.”
The Brethren will call on a solid junior base in 2024 and Gorrell hopes to sprinkle an excellent local list with some marquee talent.
“We’re doing everything possible to get players in, and we have had a lot of interest so far, and we’re talking to some really good players,” Gorrell said.
“A lot of people are sitting back and waiting to see who does sign and who doesn’t, but as soon as a couple of blokes put pen to paper, the rest will commit.”
The Brethren are set to kick off pre-season training next month.
“We’re going to train once a week from December 1 and get everyone together for fitness games and a bit of socialising,” Gorrell said.
Gorrell isn’t the only former NRL star set to coach in the 2024 Group 9 competition.
Justin Carney will enter the second year of a three-year contract with the Albury Thunder, while Josh McCrone is going around again as captain-coach of his junior club, the Temora Dragons.
All Group 9 clubs have locked in their first grade coaches for 2024, with Nathan Rose on board for his second year with the Wagga Kangaroos.
Zac Masters won’t have Lachlan Bristow by his side, but the powerful forward will coach the Tumut Blues, who will be out to defend their title.
Blake Dunn and Derek Hay have been re-signed for a second year with the Gundagai Tigers.
South City Bulls welcomed former City representative and accomplished player Cleveland McGhie, and the Junee Diesels unveiled head coach Daniel Foley and assistant coach Damian Willis late last month.
The Young Cherrypickers were quick to announce their new coach, Tom Giles, who will take over the top job from Nick Cornish.