Boots up, books out for Kirk at Goodna
WHEN Corey Kirk dropped the bombshell news he would be hanging up the boots at the end of the 2018 Rugby League Ipswich season, the star Goodna halfback said he was looking forward to some weekends free from footy.
That was never going to happen.
The consummate clubman and loyal Goodna servant still had a lifelong competitive itch he needed to scratch. In his words, "it's pretty tough to go from playing for 30 years to stepping away altogether”.
So naturally, he came on board to coach the Eagles for the 2019 season.
"I probably always had a bit of a desire to go on and try my hand at coaching,” Kirk said.
"It just seemed like the right thing to do at the time. It's an opportunity to still satisfy my competitive side and still be involved with the club that I love.
"Those relaxing weekends - they're off the radar again. There's probably a lot more work involved as head coach, but we've been going just over three months from day one of pre-season to now, and I'm really enjoying it.
"It's been a trouble-free run so far. But the exciting part is about to kick-off in two weeks.”
Character-wise, Kirk is a perfect fit at Goodna. He knows the players, he knows the fans - he has the respect of everyone.
However, going from much-loved teammate to the man tasked with making the tough calls is not easy.
"I think the respect definitely plays a big part,” Kirk said.
"As a head coach there's a line you have to draw in the sand. It's what enables that (coach-player dynamic) to be successful.
"My assistant can get in there and be one of the boys so to speak, whereas the buck stops with me. Any big or tough decisions that need to be made, I'm happy to weather that responsibility.
"At our level a lot of it comes down to communication. If you can explain your reasons to the players, they'll accept it and continue to work hard.”
This is not Kirk's first coaching rodeo. He will happily tell you his greatest footy passion is moving the magnets for his under-13 Goodna team.
He promised nothing will change this year.
"100% sticking with my juniors. I wouldn't give them up for the world,” Kirk said.
"I love playing a part in them growing as footballers and as young men. It gives me a lot of satisfaction.
"The plate is pretty full this year, but I have a great wife that supports me and an employer that allows me the flexibility to make all he trainings. I'm pretty fortunate with my circumstances outside of footy.
"I'd probably be lost without it.”