NEWLY appointed Queanbeyan Blues coachSimon Woolford says the club’s impressive off-season recruitment drive isalmost complete following the marquee signings of former NRL players TrevorThurling and Marc Herbert.
Nanjing Night Net

The prized signatures of Thurling andHerbert were confirmed late last month and the two additions alone immediatelyvault the Blues back into genuine premiership contention next season.

The two headliners join well-regardedforwards Levi Freeman [West Belconnen] and Tony McLean [Yass] who have alsosigned on with the east-Queanbeyan club for 2013.

“I rang Marc literally the day I signed onwith the Blues,” Woolford told TheQueanbeyan Age. “Quality halves arepretty scarce around the place. “Trevor was obviously a real target having losta couple of front-rowers so those two blokes were my main priorities.

“We’ve been lucky enough to recruit acouple of other guys as well in Levi Freeman and Tony McLean who is one of thebest forwards in the competition.

“We’re in the process of talking to acouple of quality outside backs as well who just need to sign off but hopefullyby the middle of October we’ll have everyone we need on board.”

Thurling’s recruitment is a major boost forthe Blues above and beyond his 100 games of NRL experience with the CanberraRaiders and Canterbury Bulldogs.

As a club junior, the 28-year-old does notcount toward the points system used by the Canberra Raiders Cup competition inlieu of a salary cap.

The Blues will be without the services offorwards Matt Holmes (Darwin) and Steve McLean (retired) next season while thedeath of prop Jay Lasscock has left a considerable hole in the club’s playingroster.

Woolford’s own signing meanwhile, is amajor coup for the Blues and the ex-Canberra Raiders captain brings a wealth oftop-level experience – and contacts – to the club.

Woolford played 233 games in the NRL withthe Canberra Raiders from 1994-2006 before a two-year stint at St George-Illawarra.

The former Country Origin hooker and ACTrepresentative coach has signed on at the Blues for the next two seasons afterthe club declined to renew former coach Adam Doyle’s contract.

The 37-year-old previously coached theGungahlin Bulls in 2010 but relinquished the role in order to pursue mediaopportunities at Fox Sports.

Having now returned to the coaching ranks,Woolford will juggle his Blues commitments alongside a specialised coachingrole with the Raiders and his commercial cleaning business.

“I thought when I retired I’d give themedia a crack…but it’s not something I miss to be honest,” Woolford said. “I’dnever rule [coaching] out long-term but I guess we’ll see how it goes after acouple of years with the Blues.

“At the moment I’m happy just doing what Ido with the Blues and with the Raiders but if the right [coaching]opportunities come up down the track, I’d never say never.”

Former Canberra Raiders and St George-Illawarra hooker Simon Woolford has already attracted a host of top quality talent since taking over the coaching reins at the Queanbeyan Blues last month. Photo: Fairfax Digital

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