Smith back to drive cougars

IT won't come as a major surprise to supporters of the Capricorn Cougars that the man in charge of the team for the 2010 Hyundai QSL campaign is again Brad Smith.

After taking over the hot seat early last year when the Cougars and Justin Kilshaw parted company, Smith has the challenging job of knitting together a group of the best players produced locally with, hopefully, a few overseas players.

“The appointment is for one season,” Smith confirmed.

The Cougars are committed to a three-year contract with Football Queensland to play in the QSL. That will be up for renewal prior to the start of 2011, and both Smith and chief executive officer Bevan Dingley are confident it will be renewed once the time comes.

Last season Smith inherited a squad of players, but despite being able to name his own squad he still expects those who served last year to make up the nucleus of the Cougars.

“We will start with last year's squad, that is 15 or 16 players, then we will have those on the fringe involved,” he said.

“I'll get in touch with club coaches to find out about players I don't know too much about and also see if anything new is in town.”

The Cougars' stance on Gladstone players being a part of the concept has not changed.

“Travelling is an issue,” Smith admitted.

“But those who want to do it enough (play QSL) will travel.”

With the Cougars ready to resume training in the next few weeks Smith insists all last year's squad, with the exception of Roy Bob and Craig Porter who retired, will again be available.

“Nobody has said directly to me they are not coming back again,” he said.

The coach promises a change in training methods for his newly formed squad.

“It will be much more football orientated,” he promised.

The move by the Cougars to Frenchville's Ryan Park is another plus for Smith and the Cougars.

“It is the best field and is in the middle of where people are,” he said.

“Ryan Park also has better seating.

“That's taking nothing away from Southside (Jardine Park) as they were great for us.”

Smith also retains his position on the board of the Cougars, but he does not see that as affecting his coaching duties.

“It is just more time I spend (working),” he said.

The coach has yet to announce who his “back-room” team will be, but expects that to fall into place during the next couple of weeks.

Football Queensland has told country areas like Rockhampton to have in place a reserve side made up of young players identified as the next generation of QSL stars.

Mackay and Townsville have made the transition successfully, but now Cairns and Capricornia are expected to do something similar.

“It would be an under-19 side and run by the Zone,” he said.

“The Cougars would still look at linking close to it because if done properly the next senior players would come from the Under-19 team.”

Smith is not expecting a young country team to suddenly become a major force in the QSL, with experienced performers like Bob and Porter no longer a part of the squad he knows it will test Cougars'depth.

“We are in the same position as we were 25 years ago with the old State League,” he said.

Dingley said the appointment of Smith will benefit the club.

“We are looking for stability, he took over when the last coach left and so now he can form his own squad and work on his pre-season,” he said.

CEO Dingley had reason to smile as DC Motors again showed their support for the Cougars with another 12-month sponsorship.

Sales manager for the company, Will Burns, said DC Motors was happy to be involved with the Cougars again.

State of Play

• The Hyundai QSL has been run by Football Queensland since 2008.

• Last year the Cougars finished 9th of 11 teams.

• Fixtures for the 2010 QSL season are due out by early November with two of the top four finishers of 2009, Olympic and Redlands, withdrawing.

• Next season the Cougars will play eight home games at Ryan Park, Frenchville, and one at Gladstone

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