Sea Swift Northern Pride is proud to announce Joe O’Callaghan as its new head coach for the 2015 Intrust Super Cup season.
O’Callaghan, Pride’s assistant coach last season, replaces Jason Demetriou who has joined the North Queensland Cowboys as their new assistant coach.
The 30-year-old played a key role as part of Demetriou’s coaching staff in helping the club to an historic treble in 2014 as the club won the Intrust Super Cup minor premiership and premiership and NRL State Championship.
O’Callaghan, who has previously had assistant coach roles at Easts Tigers and Queensland Maroons Under 18s, has also been High Performance Coordinator for the Pride Academy Program, as well as FNQ High Schools Rugby League Coordinator for Education Queensland.
O’Callaghan said he was delighted to be given the opportunity to coach the Pride squad in their 2015 Intrust Super Cup premiership defence.
“I’m absolutely thrilled to be named as head coach of the Northern Pride,” O’Callaghan said.
“It’s a proud club with a successful culture, and I’m confident we’ll once again have a finals-bound squad.
“I know there’s a bit of pressure there, with the success we’ve had this year, and losing a few players, but in reality we lost seven players after winning the minor premiership in 2013, and went on strongly the following year, so that’s not a concern for me.
“I’m really looking forward to not only helping to bring further success for the team on the field, but also to further develop our great game throughout far north Queensland.”
O’Callaghan admitted he would be looking to sign backrowers before the start of the season, after the departure of Tyrone McCarthy and Blake Leary to the UK Super League and NRL respectively.
“It’s no secret that the back row is a target for us in regards to new signings,” he said.
“Now the head coach role is finalised, we can work towards securing new faces, and we’re already in talks with players who have NRL experience about joining us for 2015.
“However, I expect the nucleus of our 2014 squad to be fresh and ready to go around again next year.”
O’Callaghan said he would continue to instill the winning culture established by Demetriou, but would be his own man.
“It would be silly of me to just be a robot and copy what JD (Jason Demetriou) has put in place,” said O’Callaghan.
“But I have been part of the club for a couple of years, so I’ll be looking to keep the culture we’ve built, and look to freshen up a few things where I see it is necessary.”
Pride Chief Executive Officer Brock Schaefer said the recruitment process for the head coach role was a tough one, which attracted outstanding candidates from across the world.
“I promised Pride fans at the start of this process that we would leave no stone unturned to find the best man for the job,” said Schaefer.
“This included not only looking for suitable candidates around Australia, but also expanding our search internationally.
“In fact, we received applications from around Australia and the UK, which shows the standing of the Northern Pride in the global rugby league community.
“But, in Joe, I have no doubt that we’ve found the best.
“Over the past two years, Joe has shown outstanding coaching potential as assistant to Jason Demetriou, and we feel he is more than ready for this next stage in his coaching career.
"He is hugely knowledgeable about the game, extremely hard working, and we look forward to having him with us for the forthcoming season.
“Joe ticked all the boxes we want from our new head coach, and the bonus will be the continuity that his appointment will bring to the Pride.
“We’re thrilled he’s accepted our offer to lead our football program.”
Pride will officially start pre-season on Saturday, November 22 with its traditional induction day, followed by gym and field sessions beginning Monday, November 24.