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New BMD Premiership coaches of 2024: Danny Gray

Season 2024 of the BMD Premiership is upon us and there are some talented fresh faces among the coaching ranks.

Four clubs have appointed new head coaches, while the Sunshine Coast Falcons and Western Clydesdales join the competition for the first time.

In this edition we talk to Sunshine Coast coach Danny Gray about leading the inaugural Falcons team and the future stars of the region.

Coaching history

Danny Gray started coaching the Caloundra Sharks after retiring from playing, overseeing the men's A grade side for five years.

In 2015, he joined the Sunshine Coast Falcons, taking over the reins of the Colts before becoming Cup assistant coach for the 2017 and 2018 seasons, including their grand final loss to the PNG Hunters.

From 2019 onwards, Gray was in charge of the Falcons' Mal Meninga Cup side and this year was due to have a year off.

But the original coach lined up for the BMD Premiership job decided to step away and Falcons CEO Chris Flannery and Cup coach Brad Henderson came knocking.

Grey with Falcons Hostplus Cup captain, Patrice Siolo. Photo: Josh Woning/QRL
Grey with Falcons Hostplus Cup captain, Patrice Siolo. Photo: Josh Woning/QRL

Q&A with Danny Gray

How does it feel to be promoted to head coach of the Sunshine Coast Falcons?

"I was supposed to be having a year off but with Steve (Belsham) withdrawing from the BMD, Chris and Brad gave me a call and asked me if I would be interested in coming in and taking over the girls. There was a little bit of hesitation not having coached girls before. My wife plays elite level touch and I've been involved there but never as the coach. I wasn't sure if I was the right person for the role but I had some really good reassurances from Hayley Maddick and a few girls I know through my wife's association with touch footy. They were keen for me to get on board. I've been with the girls about six or seven weeks now. It is a bit different coaching grown women to 18-year-old men but it's really enjoyable."

What is your coaching philosophy?

"I'm big on good people first. Good people make better footballers. I believe in working hard, working in the effort areas, making sure we focus on things that are in our control as coaches and players. I like to make sure that the players have real ownership of what they do too. I've had my time as a player so I feel my job as a coach is to let them have some control and some say about the style of footy we play. I do have a defence mindset. This is my 10th year at the Falcons and having such an influence of Melbourne and the way Craig (Bellamy) is, there is some defensive mindset around that. It is about working hard and that's really important to me that we have effort and commitment and we try to breed competitors in our footy sides."

Who would you say is your mentor or strongest influence in coaching?

"I've been really, really fortunate to have some really good mentors. John Dixon was someone I had a fair bit to do with for a long time now and is a real sort of mentor of mine. John is someone as a coach I have huge respect for and has helped me massively. Guys like Craig (Bellamy) and Wayne Bennett I admire and I love their philosophies on the game and life. And then guys that are my peers. I've worked with some good guys at the Flacons since being there. People like Brad Henderson and Sam Mawhinney. Your peer group generally have the most influence over you."

What are your first impressions of your squad?

"They have great energy. For me coming in late, they seem to have gelled really well. You have a big gap between Hayley Maddick and Annette (Brander) and Maddie Studdon to the girls that have just been playing local league. But their energy is really good. They get along really well. We have a really harmonious group and a group that is really willing to work hard. They're keen to learn and keen to work really hard."

What are your goals for season 2024?

"I just want us to be incredibly competitive. I have no real expectation and I try not to speak about wins and losses. I'm very process driven as a coach. We talk about good and bad outcomes revolving around whether or not we follow process or stick to the process. If they work hard, generally things can take care of themselves. We haven't spoken about goals in regards to where we want to finish. It's understanding what we're good at and making sure we execute those things. My hope is that they're incredibly competitive."

Who will make history in season 2024?

Who within your squad will make their mark in 2024?

"I have a couple of younger girls that I've been incredibly impressed with. I don't want to pump them up too much but Jordie Jackson, our young hooker, is really impressive. She's super diligent, always asking questions, always looking to improve and get better. I'm really impressed with Shanae Gray and Rhemy Hinckesman is another one I've been really impressed with. This is only her second year of rugby league. She's an ex-touchie, an elite touch player, and I'm really impressed with Remy. I have high hopes for those girls because they work really hard and are sponges who take everything in. They will all play this weekend (in Round 1) so to be part of this inaugural side is phenomenal."

Acknowledgement of Country

Queensland Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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