NEWLY appointed Central Queensland Capras coach John Harbin is excited by the challenge of returning the region's premier rugby league team to the finals. The Morning Bulletin's Guy Williams caught up with him yesterday.
How have you spent your first week as Central Capras coach?
It's been spent compiling profiles on this season's squad with a view to player retention.
Some have retired, others are going overseas and one or two have signed with other clubs.
The good news is that some will be signing contracts early next week.
Discussions with players will take place on a daily basis with a view to further signings.
We will then look at which areas we have to strengthen and begin the recruiting process.
Why did you take on the challenge of coaching the region's premier rugby league team?
The challenge is what attracted me to the job. It will be a trans
itional period but one which excites me.
Coaching is in my blood and I am thrilled to be working with a new group of players who have impressed me with their enthusiasm for the coming season.
How has the response been to reverting to the Capras for next season?
I fully approve of the name change to Capras as it brings back fond memories for me.
Feedback from the general public has been very positive and quite a few past players have expressed similar sentiments.
I do think, though, that we should acknowledge the Comets' playing records and achievements as they have certainly made a strong contribution to rugby league in Central Queensland.
I have 10 years of Capras' photos on my wall at home and am proud to say I have been involved with players such as Graham White, Greg Upkett, Russell Miller, Peter White and Sime Busby.
Have you settled on your staff for 2012?
The coaching, medical and fitness staff is almost finalised.
An announcement will be made next week once the final appointments have been made.
My only guarantee is that it will be a young, vibrant staff who have excellent people skills and are determined to make the Capras a success.
We've also planned to announce the Capras under-18 and under-16 coaches in the very near future.
How is the recruitment process coming together?
Local players will be given every opportunity to play for the Capras, but that is all I can guarantee - the opportunity.
In all reality, the squad will be comprised of imports, locals, and players returning to the area.
I have been astounded at the number of local players wishing to return to the area and this will be great news for the local clubs as not all of these will be regular fixtures in the Capras side.
I will say that when we select the team each week where a player comes from won't be part of the criteria.
I've heard there's been plenty of interest from outside Rockhampton. Are you planning to accommodate players from other regions?
Former Capras players Peter White, Rod Dahl and Gary Larsen will be part of a coaching panel to oversee a development squad in Gladstone. Players who impress will be invited to attend sessions with the full squad with a view to creating a pathway to State League football.
We also hope to form a similar squad in the Central Highlands and Central West.
The Gladstone coaching panel really excites me.
They are people of the highest integrity who are passionate about rugby league and the development of young players.
What can fans expect from the Capras in 2012?
They can expect a totally committed team that are going to take pride in the Capras jersey.