Family first as PJ Ellis plans to hand over coach role

UNCERTAIN FUTURE: Maitland Pickers captain-coach PJ Ellis at training. Picture: Stuart ScottMAITLAND captain-coach PJ Ellis appears likely to hang up the clipboard at the end of this season.
Shanghai night field

While the veteran hooker is not 100per cent certain about quitting, he said family commitments with three young children made coaching difficult.

The 37-year-old had planned on retiring from playing but remaining as coach next season. He said he was now more likely to continue as only a player.

‘‘I probably won’t have the time to coach, and you don’t have that down time a player might have with the kids,’’ Ellis said. I’m still undecided. I’m not 100per cent.’’

■ Matt Lantry has a handshake agreement to continue coaching Central next season, which is expected to be signed off on next week.

Butcher Boys secretary Terry Bryden and Lantry made the verbal agreement a fortnight ago and have been formulating the club’s budget for next season.

‘‘It’s a handshake agreement and we’re rolling forward for next season, there’s just a few things to tidy up before I sign on the dotted line,’’ Lantry said.

Once Lantry signs, retaining most of his squad is his top priority.

‘‘One thing I have noticed in the last six weeks, that obviously winning helps, but the culture among the club has really galvanised as a team on and off the field,’’ he said. ‘‘That always takes time to happen, your successful teams stay together for a long period of time.’’

■ As expected, Cessnock five-eighth Riley Brown has withdrawn from the NSW Country tour of Hawaii due to family commitments.

Brown’s place is taken by Berkeley Vale’s Alex Moore.

The Country squad fly out for Honolulu tomorrow, with Brendan Hlad, Chris Adams (Cessnock), Jake Finn, Callan Richardson, Simon Williams and Peter Mannion (Wests) the Newcastle representatives in coach Jamie Feeney’s squad.

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