SPEED DEAL: Col Speed has confirmed he will stay at the Axemen in 2019.
SPEED DEAL: Col Speed has confirmed he will stay at the Axemen in 2019.

Speed makes final decision on coaching future

RUGBY LEAGUE: South Grafton Rebels have lost the race to sign Group 2 premiership-winning coach Col Speed for next season with the Grafton coach instead pledging his allegiance to Orara Valley Axemen for another year.

Speed was in talks with several clubs about his coaching future, including the Woolgoolga Seahorses, with the Rebels understood to have gone as far as tabling an offer to the coach.

But it was a chance to complete his plan, and build Orara Valley back up to its peak that has kept Speed at Coramba.

"The decision to stay was based around the quality of people that are at the club, I'm two years into my plan for the club and we are really making headway,” he said.

"I started with a goal and plans for the club and I want to see that through.

"I was approached by two other clubs in South Grafton and Woolgoolga, and I would like to thank them for the professional way in which they acted throughout the process.”

It is understood his decision to stay was also swayed by the success of his son Elliott, who has been part of the Axemen junior system this season.

Speed joined the Axemen two years ago and has taken the first grade side from the wooden spoon to second on the ladder in that time.

His recruitment of playing talent has been a major cause of that rise, with representative players Buddy Hart, Luke Beaumont and AJ Gilbert all joining the club this season.

But Speed hit back at rumours that it was all because of the involvement of Nana Glen's Hollywood influence in Russell Crowe.

"I am just over those comments, it is an absolute insult to the hard-working people who bust their arse in the canteen, in the sheds and around the ground every week,” he said.

"We appreciate the support the Crowe family gives the club, but it is the people in a club that make it successful.”

South Grafton Rebels vice-president Tony Stackhouse said the club was disappointed to miss out on Speed's signature but respected his decision to remain at the Axemen.

The Rebels, who are preparing to celebrate the club's league tag side in the grand final this weekend, has been left to search for a first grade coach next season after Ron Gordon expressed his intent to return to the Under 18s ranks.

South Grafton has turned to Country Rugby League to advertise across their networks for expressions of interest toward the 2019 coaching role.

It is understood applicants would be required to coach/captain-coach first grade as well as oversee the running of Reserve Grade, Under 18 and League Tag sides.

Expressions of interest for the role close at midnight on Sunday, September 9.

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