Simmonds steps up
New Collegians coach Reece Simmonds believes a two-year apprenticeship under three-time premiership-winning mentor Paul McGregor leaves him well equipped to lead Collies' title defence this season.
Collies won the 2013 premiership in thrilling circumstances under former coach Scott Logan, leaving Simmonds to step into the hot seat at a new club hungry for back-to-back crowns.
Simmonds has filled big shoes in the past - taking over from McGregor at Wests in 2012 after three straight premierships from 2009 to 2011.
Simmonds played under McGregor in the 2010 and 2011 grand finals and nearly made it four in a row for the Devils when he took them to the grand final as coach in 2012.
He feels the experience will serve him well in his new role at Collegians.
"I took over at Wests from Paul McGregor two years ago, so I do know what it takes," Simmonds said.
"It's about me getting across to the guys what it takes to back up and to win a premiership when you have won one. Being the defending premiers everyone's out to get you.
"Week-in, week-out you need to be up to it and on your game.
"We're down to six teams this year, so it's only going to be tougher because all the teams are stronger."
Simmonds believes new faces on the coaching staff can be the perfect remedy to any premiership hangover.
"I think it'll help ... I gather at training having a new first-grade coach and reserve-grade coach . . . it's a change of faces and the guys are trying to impress at training and show what they're capable of," he said.
"It's a new challenge, obviously they won the premiership last year and I'm taking over from Scotty Logan who took them to that premiership, but it's a new start for them as well.
"It's probably a bit refreshing for them with a bit of a changing of the guard."
While most coaches keep their cards close to their chest at this time of year, Simmonds was frank about how his side will approach the 2014 season.
"If you look across the board most clubs are doing very similar stuff . . . it's how well you execute," he said.
"I've played with four of the five other coaches in the comp, so I know most guys pretty well and we're all pretty much on the same page when we have a chat.
"Rylesey's [Jason Ryles] trying to bring a little bit of what he's learned at the Storm and Fienzy [Nathan Fien] as well, but it's going to come down to who's fit at the time and who's got their best players on the park."