Swifts boss bringing a win-now mentality
DAMIAN O'Donohue has just about had enough of the off-season.
He just wants to get into the fun stuff.
Preparing for his second season at the helm of the Bluebirds, the 2018 Rugby League Ipswich Senior Coach of the Year admitted summer was a "pretty stressful time” as he juggled multiple club responsibilities preparing for Swifts' centenary year.
"I can't wait for it to start. I've been working pretty much since presentation day last year,” O'Donohue said. "I've been on the phone daily to people organising stuff.
"It all worked out in the end. That's behind us now, now the footy is starting I'm all good. I can't wait to rip in and see what we can do.”
Swifts surprised many last year to be the early-season frontrunners, before Fassifern powered away toward the end.
Where the Bluebirds suffered was a lack of depth at key positions. When injuries hit, O'Donohue did not have the quality in reserve to match it with a juggernaut like the Bombers.
Swifts' finals run ended in straight sets to Fassifern and then Norths.
But for the then-first year coach, winning a premiership was never the be-all-end-all.
"Last year wasn't really about winning, it was building a base to work with for the future,” O'Donohue said.
"This year we're really focused on doing the best job we can do.
"I learned a fair bit from last year. I'm looking forward to working with a new batch of guys and seeing what we can do together.
"We've got a few new players come across. I think we might be stronger (than last season). We've got a lot more depth this year; in the halves, the back row, in the centres . . . all the key positions.”
One big name addition is Jake O'Doherty. The former favourite son at Raceview has swapped the blue and white for blue and red, and his new coach is rubbing his hands together after seeing the forward in action through pre-season.
"Having Jake on board just gives us that bit more,” O'Donohue said.
"Teli won't have to do all the hard yards up the middle now. It frees him up to pace himself through the game, and do the quality stuff rather than the quantity stuff. That's why I'm hoping.
"The way Jake played (in the most recent trial match) . . . I've never seen him play like that, he was almost unstoppable. Probably because he wanted to prove to us what he can do.
"Hopefully he can maintain that.”
O'Doherty has put in the hard yards on the training paddock but also in the gym over summer to get himself fit and firing for round one.
And he is not the only Bluebird going the extra yard for form and fitness.
Swifts have recruited some seasoned heads to assist O'Donohue and his coaching staff in the strength and conditioning aspects of training.
"I've got the helpers now to look after everybody else,” the coach said.
One player the Swifts boss expects to have a bigger tank this season is Angaruzeb (Zeb) Nuuola.
Nuuola was Swifts' saviour in round one last season, coming off the bench to score two second-half tries in a 28-18 win over Norths.
"He's been getting through all the fitness. He's really pushing himself,” O'Donohue said.
"He's still not quite as fit as I'd like, but he's definitely on the right track and you can see that he wants it - wants to contribute more.
"I can't wait to see what he'll do with more minutes on the field.”