Incoming Dubbo Macquarie coach Dylan Hill is “over the moon” to be given the chance to mentor the side and feels a focus on defence can help the Raiders return to the pinnacle of Group 11.
Hill, 25, officially signed on as coach of the Dubbo club on Thursday and said getting the top job was something he’d had his eyes on for some time.
“I’m over the moon,” he said.
“It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for the past three years, at least, and I feel I’ve got the leadership skills to lead a young Macquarie pack around and I’ve got the respect of my players so I’m looking forward to the opportunity.”
While Hill is certain to be one of the youngest coaches in bush footy next season, there’s no doubting his pedigree.
Hill spent time in Sydney after his junior years with South Dubbo, playing under 20s at Cronulla before NSW Cup matches at the Manly Sea Eagles.
Dylan Hill confirmed as new coach at #Dubbo Macquarie in #Group11. 25-year-old Raiders junior has spent time at @Cronulla_Sharks and @SeaEagles and said his time in Sydney "brought him out of his shell" and gave him the belief to succeed. @WesternRams@CountryRL— Nick Guthrie (@Nj_Guthrie) November 23, 2017
He also spent time at the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) and has made countless representative sides, before returning home to play for Westside in 2014.
After one season with the Rabbitohs he returned to the Raiders but has been dogged by serious knee injuries since then.
“I’d always been a bit of a shy guy but playing down there (Sydney) brought me out of my shell and I’ve got a lot of belief in myself and the things I’ve learnt,” he said.
While excited to work with new president Ross McDermott and the board, Hill had nothing but praise for those who came before him.
He said the likes of Mark Meredith, Zac Rennick and Steve McLellan helped get the club to where it is but was keen to add it was time for the Raiders to take the next step and challenge the likes of defending premiers, and fierce crosstown rivals, Dubbo CYMS.
“I feel with Ross coming in now and a new board too and some new coaches I believe we can establish a new culture and really try and build something,” he said, before speaking about his style.
“I’m a defensive man. I love my defence and my wrestling so I think we’ll have a major focus on that and we’ve got the skills and talent in attack so I believe if we work on our defence the attack will come.
“I want us to work for each other in defence and really have that close bond and mateship.”
Hill is well equipped to instill that at the Raiders having worked with coaches who went on to teach wrestling skills at the Melbourne Storm while at the AIS.
Members of the Raiders’ under 18s premiership winners will also be asked to make the step up and take on key roles in first grade next season.
The young Raiders played some exhilarating football on the way to winning the title and combined with some familair faces, as well as some new ones, Hill is already feeling excited about 2018.
The Raiders have already got Bobby Gordon, a former Group 11 premiership winner with CYMS who has spent time in the Barwon Darling League recently, to join while former Cronulla Shark Isaac Gordon will also be in sky blue.
“There’s some exciting talent coming over and I’m happy with what we’ve done but it’s not all about reaching out to players,” Hill said.
“It’s the juniors coming through which excites me too. It’s exciting to see young guys like Jai Merritt, Blake Frost and Kane McDermott coming through and then there’s other under 18s like Blaine Gordon and Colby Peckham who are exciting talents so I think we’ve got a lot of talent going in to the new season.”
Macquarie will be training alongside South Dubbo juniors at the Riverbank Ovals for the next month.
That closer association with the feeder club is something McDermott said he was keen to build.