Don's Darke secrets

DON Darke has been coaching the Far North Coast (FNC) Dolphins’ under-17 rugby side for the past three seasons.

And the former Grafton Redmen and NSW under-21 Colts’ prop forward appears to know his stuff, with the Dolphins winning the NSW Country Rugby Union Championships for a third consecutive time with Darke at the helm.

The Dolphins defeated a strong Central North side 25-10 in the final at Ourimbah on the Central Coast on Sunday.

“We haven’t lost a game at the Country Championships in three years,” Darke told the Examiner this week.

“I pick trial games which will test us. Hard opposition prior to the Championships.

“Central North were pretty tough in the final but to be realistic our guys were very dominant.”

Darke admitted coaching had its up and downs and as a former prop, learning about backline play was a hurdle early on.

“I’ve learnt a lot about rugby since I’ve actually retired,” Darke said.

“I’ve been coaching with the North Coast Academy for the past couple of years and have been focusing on ball movement and backline play.

“It’s a learning process. It does become like a job at times and you can’t please everyone.”

The successful coach was full of praise for his rising stars and admitted it was hard to find a weakness in the side.

“We have a very solid structure in the forwards ... they know what to do,” he said.

“Our backs are also very talented. You could say we have a well-balanced side.”

After winning the decider, 12 FNC players were selected in the under-17 NSW Country squad.

Grafton’s Jayden Darke and Yamba trio Matteo Cervella, Scott Geronimi and Rick Mitchell were named in the Country squad after impressive performances at the Championships.

The under-17 Country side will compete at a carnival at the Gold Coast in July and against City at a later date.

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