THE Grafton Rhinos Rugby League Club is reeling after the sudden departure of first grade coach Shaun Fathers.
Mr Fathers left the club on Thursday, citing family problems as the reason.
He said he had explained his position to club president Tony Stackhouse and was leaving on good terms.
“There's no problem with the club, the players or the committee. Everything's sweet that way,” Mr Fathers said.
Mr Stackhouse said the club, which was gearing up for a tough local derby clash with arch-rivals the Grafton Ghosts, will attempt to concentrate on the game before making a decision on who would coach the team for the rest of the season.
“We had an all-grades meeting last night to announce to the players what had happened,” Mr Stackhouse said.
“The players were positive and after the meeting both the senior grades trained until 7.30pm.”
Mr Stackhouse said veteran player and club captain Steve Kirby would run the team for the weekend.
“We'll be having a meeting on Monday to decide which way we're going,” Mr Stackhouse said.
“I'm almost certain we're going to replace him from within the club.
“But whether it's a senior player or a leadership group of senior players, we haven't decided yet.”
The Rhinos have been the surprise packet of the NRRRL so far this season, winning their opening four games of the competition.
But off the field things have not been so rosy, with players involved in alcohol-fuelled mayhem before a pre-season game.
Mr Stackhouse said there was no link between the disciplinary problems and the coach's decision to leave.
“Shaun has been really good with the players getting past these problems,” he said.
“The club really owes him a debt of gratitude. I mean so far this year we've played five games and won four.
“He had a way of getting the best out of the players, especially the younger ones in the club.
“I really feel that there could even be a positive in this.
“If we can overcome this adversity it will make the club even stronger.
“I hope for his sake everything works out well for him and his family.”