New coach Mick Heenan has assured himself a smooth transition into Bull Sharks rugby by luring close mate Sean Hedger back home to The Canal.
As a former Director of Rugby at Bond and First Grade head coach, Hedger already has a strong connection to the club.
He will serve as an assistant coach to Heenan and brings a wealth of experience in professional rugby gained in stints at Super Rugby franchises the Reds, Melbourne Rebels and Waratahs.
He is also familiar with Heenan’s coaching style having worked together at GPS Rugby where they coached the Colts team to a premiership.
“I’m really looking forward to working with Mick again, he’s a guy that I’ve always got along with and always respected so I know that he’s going to bring some good experience to the group,” Hedger said.
“I also feel like our coaching staff have got a bit of a head start compared to other groups who have to sound each other out.
“Given that we’ve worked together in the past, I feel like we’re going to hit the ground running a lot quicker than others.”
Heenan joins the club as the most successful coach in Queensland Premier Rugby history having taken UQ to six Hospital Cup premierships from 10 grand final appearances in his 14 years at the helm.
Bond’s Director of Rugby Luca Liussi looks forward to seeing the development across the rugby club.
"There's a massive load of experience that these guys bring not only into our first-grade team but our club as a whole," Liussi said.
"Their strengths will certainly complement each other and they have great relationships with each other and with Grant Anderson."
Anderson, the past first-grade head coach, is set to take on a new role as Head of Rugby.
He will oversee the performance side of the programs, along with player and staff recruitment, retention, and coach development.
"Coach development is something that could use a lot of improvement in Australia, let alone at the club level," Liussi said.
"We're aiming to use the people in our club and all the different experiences within our club to allow our staff to grow and learn from each other."
Liussi hopes this will extend across various programs, not only in coaching but also in the medical program, management, and among all club members.
“Our vision is to provide a pathway for coaches and staff to broaden their knowledge and skills whilst also contributing to the overall development of the club,” he said.
In the women's program, former head coach Lawrence Faifua will transition to an assistant role, whilst last season’s assistant coach Shannon Symons will step in as head coach.
As an ex-Super W forwards coach, Symons is sure to bring an additional layer of strength to the Bull Sharks women’s side.
“Shannon has a wealth of experience and he is also just a really great guy, so I’m really excited to see what he can do for the club in 2024,” Faifua said.
“Culturally I know he’ll keep what we’ve been building on and continue to develop that.”
Tania Hala will also play a new role as assistant coach of the women’s side.
Hala has played a crucial role in the success and recruitment efforts of the women's program since 2019.
“On top of her work with our 7s program, Tania runs a girls program out of Kings College and she is a very good coach,” Faifua said.
“She is my right-hand person and we do everything together.”