By TONY WHITE
YAMBA Buccaneers Rugby Club have appointed experienced coach Richard Almond to guide the club's fortunes this season.
Following a successful 2004, the Buccaneers will step up to first grade in Far North Coast competition for the first time since 1992.
Yamba hosted last year's end of season grand finals, the club victorious in third grade.
It's a massive challenge for the Buccaneers, but Almond's experience should prove invaluable.
Almond began playing rugby with Takapuna and East Coast Bays Rugby Clubs in New Zealand and later 13 years with the University of Western Australia Rugby Club.
He played over 200 games, was a player coach for several seasons, club captain and involved in grand final success with that club.
After moving from Western Australia and settling in Yamba, Almond played two seasons with the Buccaneers including one as captain. He subsequently undertook several coaching positions with relish.
Club stalwart Peter Campbell will assist Almond as forwards coach.
Rob Imeson has joined the club as a player and fitness trainer.
Imeson is well known in the area as a footballer and also for his Yamba business, Peak Fitness.
The Buccaneers have retained the bulk of the 2004 winning third grade grand final players and are hopeful of other signings.
Already an Irish Under-21 player is moving to the Lower Clarence in his employment and keen to join the club.
The club is also currently negotiating with two Eastwood lower grade players.
Training commences at 6pm on next Thursday, followed by a small social gathering at the club room.
A sign-on day will be held at the home of major sponsor, The Pacific Hotel, on Sunday, January 30.
All players and supporters are welcome.
n SYDNEY. ? Bulked-up Australia A rugby representative Cameron Shepherd is poised to make a weightier push for further honours from the wing position.
Shepherd, 19, initially broke into the NSW Super 12 starting lineup last year as a winger.