By Les Muir

LIFTING the gloom on a bleak off-season, Cootamundra has secured a prominent captain-coach to try to steer the Bulldogs to Group Nine salvation.

In a remarkable twist, Jade Williams has stepped up to replace Hayden Crockett as Cootamundra coach this year.

Crockett was originally signed to the Bulldogs position in November, but subsequently turned his back on the club, abruptly leaving the Bulldogs in crisis.

However, Cootamundra stalwart Tony Morton confirmed on Wednesday that Williams has now taken up the vacant Bulldogs coaching role.

 “He (Williams) has agreed to terms, but hasn’t signed yet,” Morton said.

“Hopefully everything will be sorted by next week.

“He (Williams) should be good for us.”

 Coming at a time when Cootamundra is struggling for talent, the signing of Williams will be a godsend for the Bulldogs.

Cootamundra has leaked a string of players since last season, including former captain-coaches Luke Berkrey and Grant Boyd and gun playmaker Shannon Rupapere.

Berkrey and Boyd have been lured to Queanbeyan and Temora respectively, while Rupapere has applied for a clearance to join Albury.

For Williams, the opportunity to coach Cootamundra is his latest stop in a football odyssey.

Two years ago Williams returned to the Riverina to coach Junee, but ultimately split with the Diesels before linking with Kangaroos.

Only recently, it seemed Williams was set to play with Roos again in 2016, but plans changed when the Cootamundra job was in the table again.

Williams will bring a wealth of experience and unbridled class to the Bulldogs, signalling hope of a rebirth of the beleaguered team.

Morton said Cootamundra would have a competitive first grad team this year and would also field an under-16 team in the Sullivan Cup competition.

“We’ll wait and see for the rest,” he said.

The Bulldogs have lost three senior Leaguetag players and also have a shortage of reserve graders.

Cootamundra remains optimistic recent acquisitions Anthony Leao-Seve, Soni Vaudreu and Daini Feej will stay, but a cloud definitely still hangs over their plans.

Morton is adamant rival Group Nine clubs are in a better position to attract players.

“They’ve got more money than us,” he said.

Significantly, two other Group Nine clubs are in the throes if finalising deals with big-name front rowers.


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