By Shane Jones
If the Bundaberg Bears are to have success at this year’s 47th Battalion it has the coach that knows how to do it.
The team has announced that Dave Pearce will coach the side, taking back the role that he had for a few years during the last decade.
This year’s tournament will be held in Bundaberg after the region was meant to host it last year but couldn’t due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Pearce takes over from Antonio Kaufusi who took over from him in 2018 and coached until last year, even though no 47th Battalion was held.
For Pearce, his record as Bears coach includes two wins in the 47th Battalion in 2011 and 2013 and another year, 2016, when the side won all matches but lost the tournament after not winning enough points because the side didn’t win enough halves in the contests.
“The opportunity was there (to coach),” Pearce told Bundaberg Today.
“This is the 50th anniversary so I talked about it with my wife and she said put in a nomination, so I did and got it.”
Pearce watched on intently last weekend as the A-grade Bundaberg Rugby League season started with three matches at Salter Oval.
And he was impressed by what he saw.
“There’s a number of exciting young players coming through at the moment,” he said.
“There is a lot of good talent that I saw on Saturday that impressed me and the other selectors.
“I’m quite excited by it.”
Pearce said he wanted to pick a squad that had good leg speed and drive with the forwards and can defend well with both back and forwards.
“I want to play an expansive game,” he said.
“I want the ball to go from here (left) to here (right) quickly.
“I always call it a caterpillar effect.”
Pearce said he was open to picking anyone in the team but may lean towards picking his fullback, half, five eighth and hooker from the one club.
But so far players that have impressed in round one have thrown a spanner in that plan, which he doesn’t mind.
“Idealistically that is the way to go but after seeing Saturday’s games there has been some people put their hands up to interfere with that theory,” Pearce said.
“If they do keep putting their hands up, then they will be picked.
“I was impressed by a number of players I’ve never seen before, including some youngsters who I believe are up to the standard.”
Pearce said the goal was to win but admits the competition in other areas are different to what they were previously.
For some state players in Sunshine Coast, Toowoomba and Rockhampton who don’t get picked in the Intrust Super Cup regularly, they could get picked, which is a higher level than Bundaberg’s competition.
He was confident the team selected could rise to the level to win.
“At the end of the day it is up to the player if he wants to succeed,” Pearce said.
“The player has to want to play at this level and compete at this level.
“But it is no good saying I want to have a go, I want to have a go, and not lift.
“That’s the challenges for selectors, and for me, to find the player who can do that.”
Pearce and the selectors will study each game over the next two rounds, April 10 and April 17, before making the selection call on a squad on April 18.
Players will then train three times 21 April, 27 April, 29 April to prepare before the tournament is held on 1 and 2 May.