The Bull Sharks have pulled off a coaching coup that will send shockwaves across Queensland Premier Rugby by luring six-time Hospital Cup winner Mick Heenan to The Canal.
The move to recruit a legend of University of Queensland rugby to Bond University will bring another layer to the inter-varsity rivalry and is sure to add extra spice to next season’s Brailsford-Brown Cup clashes.
Heenan established the Red Heavies as the dominant force in Queensland Rugby with 10 grand final appearances in his 14 years at the helm before stepping into an assistant coaching role at the Reds in 2022.
He will fill the First Grade coaching role left vacant by Grant Anderson who has moved into a director of coaching position.
Heenan said he was drawn to step back into a head coach role by the talent on offer at the Bull Sharks and the foundation that has been laid in recent seasons.
“It is an exciting club and an exciting group of players and they already play an attractive brand of rugby which was one thing that was important to me,” he said.
“So I just think there’s a lot of upsides and I felt like I could come down and have an impact here.”
The Bond rugby community will be hoping history repeats for Heenan who broke a 19-year premiership drought for UQ when they won in 2010.
It has been the same timespan since a Gold Coast side claimed the silverware – back in 2004 when the region was represented by the Gold Coast Breakers.
That UQ side had won just three games the year before Heenan arrived, while at Bond he will inherit an outfit that won the Minor Premiership and can boast some of QPR’s best players, including Alec Evans medallist Rhian Stowers.
“It is a different style of challenge here, we don’t have to rip everything up and start again,” he said.
“There’s a few tweaks to be made that will make a difference but as I’ve said there’s a lot of talent and they’ve had some good coaches involved over the past few years so there’s a base there.
“It is just about taking the next step.’’
Bond University Vice Chancellor and President Tim Brailsford said the appointment of the nation’s most successful club coach of the past decade set the tone for the club.
“The appointment of such an experienced coach who has achieved the ultimate success so consistently for over a decade is hugely exciting and presents an opportunity for the men’s team to match the high-water mark set by the women’s rugby team at Bond,” Professor Brailsford said.
“Mick will enjoy a strong platform set by the fine work and strong team development of Grant Anderson to whom we are indebted.
“The University looks forward to Mick hitting the ground running.”
Bond University represents a homecoming of sorts for the industrial relations lawyer. Although he has experience at GPS, the Reds, and as head coach of the Brisbane City side in the now defunct National Rugby Championship competition, he has an enduring affinity with student-based clubs.
“There is something different about university rugby. Sometimes you attract a little bit more of an eccentric personality which I enjoy,” he said.
“You like to think you’ve got some smarts out on the field.
“And you have this diversity at a university club which you don’t necessarily have at districts clubs who often have players who have been playing together since under 6s.
“There’s a certain level of cohesion that comes when guys have been playing together since they were kids that you have to work very hard at creating in university clubs, but I think it is outweighed by the benefits.
“What university clubs do have is a melting pot of ideas and cultures from all over the world which makes it an exciting place to be and an exciting place to coach.”