Zac Merritt named as player-coach for St Pat's Group 10 premier league side in 2020

ST Pat's workhorse Zac Merritt has been chosen as the man to lead the club's Group 10 premier league side on their redemption quest in 2020.

On Thursday Merritt was chosen by the club committee as the new player-coach for next season, where the Saints will searching for their first taste of finals football since 2016.

DECISION MADE: Zac Merritt has been named as the new player-coach for the St Pat's Group 10 premier league side in 2020. Photo: CHRIS SEABROOK

DECISION MADE: Zac Merritt has been named as the new player-coach for the St Pat's Group 10 premier league side in 2020. Photo: CHRIS SEABROOK

The front rower has been one of the most consistent performers for the club during his two years back in Saints colours and those efforts have earned him a new level of responsibility.

Merritt has premiership-winning experience on his side having guided the Magpies to the 2016 Group 11 title as their captain-coach.

He didn't expect to find himself at the helm of St Pat's when he journeyed back to Bathurst but Merritt is excited to take on a new leadership role.

"I didn't think this role would happen again but I love the club, always have done, and I've brought Mick Armstrong back on board with me," he said.

"He's done great work with the league tag side and he'll be great to work with.

"I'm really proud to be in charge of another team. Hopefully we can build on a few good performances from this year and take it into next year."

Pat's are set to end their season in second last position, regardless of how this Sunday's closing round game against the Blayney Bears unfolds, but Merritt believes the last thing the club needs is a big clean out.

Far from it.

He's been impressed with the promise shown by the Saints core in a tough season.

"We might try and find a couple of halves and an outside back perhaps but I don't think we need too much at the moment," he said.

"We've seen in a few of our games this year that we're able to compete with the top two or three teams and we've pushed them to their limit.

"We'll be training hard, for sure. This year I felt we've been a bit underdone fitness wise and we picked up a few injuries.

"I want to lead by example on and off the field ... and I'll look to lead the boys in every aspect I can."

A key reason behind Merritt's appointment will be his prior coaching experience with Forbes.

Merritt left St Pat's at the conclusion of the 2013 season and over his four year stint at the Magpies he developed his leadership skills.

It's hoped by the Saints committee that those pointers Merritt picked up in the top job will carry over into a new club.

"I think at times I didn't listen enough while I was over there to the people giving me guidance, and the other thing was probably training that bit harder," he said, in regards to his biggest lessons learned as a coach.

"If you train hard then the results usually follow when you're putting in that sort of work.

"This is a great opportunity with a club that's looking to go forward. We'll be getting put under a bit of pressure for our pre-season so hopefully that leads to a good season."

This Sunday's match away to the Bears at King George Oval will be the final game of Luke Branighan's coaching tenure at the club.

Merritt will become the fourth player-coach in as many seasons at St Pat's following Kurt Hancock (2014-2017), Greg Behan (2018) and Branighan (2019).