It's time to celebrate
WAYNE Barnett has earned a beer. In fact, buy him a carton of Crownies.
The rookie coach can afford to celebrate after a history-making 2009 season with the Central Comets.
Barnett took the Comets from competition easybeats to just 80 minutes away from today's Queensland Cup grand final, which will be played between the Northern Pride and Sunshine Coast at Kawana.
It was a season to savour for the Comets and their loyal fans, with the club making the Queensland Cup finals for the first time on the back of a club record nine-game winning streak at the start of the season.
The Morning Bulletin sports editor Aaron Kelly this week caught up with the man they call “Barney” to reflect on the year that was and look ahead to the club's next mission in 2010.
• After being 80 minutes away from a grand final, what will you be feeling when you tune in to watch today's decider? Watching this game will be strange as both teams we beat this year; and getting so far to fall away at the end, strange.
• Who is your tip? My heart says the Pride being a country side, but the head says Sunny Coast as they're a well-drilled team across the park.
• The Comets finished 10th (second last) in 2008 after you were appointed player-coach following Steve Anderson's sudden departure. What has been the secret to turning things around this year to finish third after the regular season and ultimately one game from the grand final? I've been asked this question a few times and it all comes back to the team. We've matured as a team, we've played three years of footy together now, and the nucleus of team is re-signed for 2010.
• The Comets won 14 games this year, including the memorable home semi-final win over the Sunshine Coast. That mark is a club record and is more wins than the previous two seasons combined (2007, two and 2008, seven). What has been the most pleasing aspect of 2009? Winning. To see the players, staff and supporters all enjoying football and watching other teams realise we're not the easybeats anymore.
• What did it mean to you and the players reaching a maiden finals series for the Comets? What it meant to me was that the hard work put in this year and the last wasn't just that. We got rewards for the efforts put in by all.
• Everyone from CQ really got behind the team, the finals ride was fun while it lasted. Has the team got a taste now and want more? To finish in the style was a real let-down and the guys were more than ready to taste more, so 2010 will be interesting.
• The preliminary final performance was disappointing. Will they use that as motivation for next season? If you were a fly on the wall after the final game you would have seen a lot of hurt and disappointment and if that doesn't give you enough motivation nothing will.
• With everyone back on deck for 2010, plus the addition of some key signings, what are your goals for next year? Our goals will be pretty much the same as this year, make the final series and try to push to the next level.
• What positions do you need to recruit in order to bolster your playing roster? We will be looking for front-rowers, centres and halves. Ask any team and they would be after the same.
• How has the alignment with the Broncos worked this season and what improvements (if any) need to be made for next season? It has worked well for us with having players fall back and push to the NRL, which makes our pathways visible.
• Finally, Matt Sing wound back the clock when he came out of retirement mid-season. Has he ruled out playing on next year? We haven't spoken to Matt yet, but I would love to see him in the Comets colours again. We might have to convince his wife.To see the players, staff and supporters all enjoying football and watching other teams realise we're not the easybeats anymore