Warriors junior Nick Barnes returns to lead Dungog into new era

PROUD WARRIOR: New Dungog coach Nick Barnes is fiercely proud of his Dungog roots and even took his old Warriors jersey with him to Afghanistan.
PROUD WARRIOR: New Dungog coach Nick Barnes is fiercely proud of his Dungog roots and even took his old Warriors jersey with him to Afghanistan.

New Dungog Warriors coach Nick Barnes is promising a fun, learning environment for players wanting to take their game to a new level.

And that includes women as the club looks to field their first Ladies League Tag team in 2019.

Barnes, a former NSW CRL representative hooker, hold his first training session at Bennett Park on Friday, January 18, and is hoping it is the beginning of an exciting new era at the club on the field and off.

”It’s been a long time since I’ve been in Dungog, I’ve got a lot of fond memories growing up as a Dungog junior and I’m looking to pass that on to the blokes coming through,” said Barnes, who played first grade with Maitland and Macquarie Scorpions in the Newcastle RL from 18 to 24 when he joined the army.

“The aim is to play, I have a lot of injuries from my time in the army, but I’m going to start training and if my body allows I will put myself on the paddock.”

Barnes said he hoped to entice former Dungog players, who may hung their boots up prematurely, back to the club and young players from Maitland and the lower Hunter keen to learn their trade and move up to the Newcastle competition.

“The idea is to get the former players back into Dungog colours, to come back and enjoy rugby league and bring some fun back into playing,” he said.

“I also want to provide a place for Dungog juniors to play and entice younger players from the Maitland area who may be looking for development coaching to help them on their way on to Newcastle grade squads.

“I see myself very much as a development coach, which is one of the reasons I’m excited about working with the Ladies League Tag team as well as the league squad.

“My biggest strength as a coach is as a development coach. My idea of coaching is starting from scratch with passing and catching the ball going through to group tackles and more complex structures.

“With my playing experience, the lessons learnt during my time in the military which I now apply to my coaching strategies, I believe I have a successful coaching template that can help Dungog into the future.

“I want to provide a fun environment for the players but at the same time provide them with a sound playing skill-set and life skills.

“I’m keen to work with young players who want to take their game to higher levels, but also as a club to provide that traditional environment where we were the focus of the community and produced good citizens.”

Barnes started coaching in 2015 in Townsville and held various roles with the representative programs and Cowboys feeder club the Townsville Blackhawks. 

He  moved back to the Hunter at the start of 2017.

Barnes worked with then Maitland Pickers coach Trevor Ott at Maitland and and joined him at the Manly Sea Eagles in 2018 working with their under-16 and under-15 teams.

“The under-16s had a successful season taking out the premiership,” he said.

“The side was a balance of local juniors with kids recruited from the western suburbs. It was about blending the two groups into one unit, which is kind of the idea with Dungog going forward to be honest.

“I’m hoping we will attract some young players from outside the town who are keen to learn and play and  former Dungog juniors looking for a game and a bit of fun.

“Having seen the introduction of the Ladies League Tag at Maitland, I’m a big fan as the women brought so much to the club. I encourage any women who want to play to come along to our first training session on January 18.”

Training is at Bennett Park on Tuesday and Friday from 6pm