Brent Pike has played rugby league for almost 30 years, and he plans to finish his career in Batemans Bay.
Pike is the new captain-coach for the Batemans Bay Tigers, and comes to the club after six years as a captain-coach at various clubs in Group 20.
Originally from Temora, Pike, his wife Hope, and his three children Kobi, 10, Zarly, 8, and Braxton, 4, had been living in Leeton for 10 years before their move to the Bay just weeks ago.
“They’ve coped really well with the move,” Pike said. “Kids seem to adapt really easily, and obviously it’s the holiday season at the moment, so we’re trying to do all the fun things with them to make the move even easier.
You’re only as old as you feel, and if you look after yourself, there’s no reason you can’t play into your late 30s.Brent Pike
“The parents on both sides were sad to see us leave, but they know it’s for footy, and I love my footy.
“If we didn’t do it this year, we wouldn’t have done it at all, and they’ve come around now because they’ve got a holiday destination to visit."
Pike was originally approached by the Tigers at the end of 2017, but was unable to commit to a move last year.
“Everything has fallen into place this year,” he said. “Last year we struggled to find somewhere to live, and I struggled to find a job, but this year everything has panned out perfectly.
“I’ve found a job, we’ve found a house, and we’re already kicking goals.”
This hopefully won’t be a short stay in Batemans Bay for Pike, who plans to play for at least three more years despite being 34 years old.
“You’re only as old as you feel, and if you look after yourself, there’s no reason you can’t play into your late 30s,” he said. “I didn't want to move the family six and a half hours for just one year of footy, so we're basing it on a three or four year plan if the club will have me for that long.”
Pike comes to the club to replace Luke Farmer, who has moved back to Griffith to continue his football in Group 20.
Luke did a fantastic job last season, and it'll be a tough gig to try and come in and match that.Brent Pike
Farmer led the club to a third-placed finish in 2018, and Pike is feeling the pressure of trying to match, or better, that result.
“I bring a bit of experience as an old veteran, and I’ve got a level head when it comes to finals or late in the games you need to win,” he said. “Luke did a fantastic job last season, and it'll be a tough gig to try and come in and match that.
“Hopefully the boys are a lot keener after last year’s experience, and they’re hungry to try and take the next step.”
Pike has played the majority of his career in the forward pack, but scored 23 tries as a centre in last year’s Group 20 competition.
“I'll just see what we've got, and then I'll fill in the blanks,” he said. “I'll try and keep most of the players in the same positions so they know what's going on, and then I'll move around.
“Making the finals is going to be our first goal, and we’d love to win every home game this year.
“If you can win every game at home, you’ve won at least 50 per cent of your matches, and that should be enough to play finals.”
Pike acknowledged the challenges of coaching a young team, but said he’d work hard to make sure the form slumps of 2018 don’t repeat themselves this season.
I’m coming into the club pretty much blind, but I’m excited to meet everyone.Brent Pike
“I just need to try to get everyone on the same playing field, and not to panic,” he said. “Sometimes you need to play boring, basic football, because it helps bring out consistency.
“I’m coming into the club pretty much blind, but I’m excited to meet everyone. We start training on February 1, and I’m keen to start working with everybody.”
Pike is already looking forward to the local derbies when the Tigers play the Moruya Sharks and the Narooma Devils.
“It’s like a state of origin for teams when they’re rivals,” he said. “You come together and butt heads, and then one team has bragging rights for a few weeks until your next match.
“They’re the games where you expect a captain-coach to step up and do the tough stuff when everybody is tired.
“You need to roll the sleeves up for that big run, or do the extra yards for a covering tackle.”
But footy doesn’t start for a couple of weeks yet, and Pike and his family will use the next couple of weeks to settle into their new home.
“It’s very busy compared to what I’m used to, but it’s a lovely little town,” he said. “I’ve met up with a couple of the committee members and new players, and they’ve all welcomed me with open arms.”