Woodruffe Back In Dual Role
Words: Michael Flynn
Image: Emily Wilson/Sunshine Coast FC
Redlands United attacking midfielder Russell Woodruffe will take on a player-coach role next season, the bayside club has confirmed.
Woodruffe, 29, is a former Hyundai A-League player with Central Coast Mariners and enjoyed a stint at Western Pride in the first season of PlayStation 4 NPL Queensland before linking with Redlands for the second time earlier this year.
He will be joined by teammate and Technical Director Graham Fyfe, who has also been retained for the coming season, in assisting head coach Matt Chandler with the Red Devils first team.
Woodruffe, who currently holds a ‘C’ coaching licence and scored three goals in 18 appearances in 2014, said his aim was to learn as a coach while still contributing on the pitch.
“Coaching is definitely something I have been interested in but I was concentrating on playing and I spoke to Matt and explained that is still a huge focus of mine,” Woodruffe explained.
“But I also identified that it’s a good time to start to build my understanding of a coaching role and grow in that space, it’s a great opportunity for me to continue to play and start my development as a coach as well.”
Woodruffe explained that a large part of his role is assisting Fyfe and Chandler with forging a positive club culture in addition to the more technical sides of the game.
“We’ve spent a fair bit of time getting a clear vision and purpose about what we are trying to achieve this year and moving forward,” he explained.
“There’s a lot of discussion about the type of environment and the type of development we want for young players and for senior players.”
“We’re going to adopt a mentoring programme where we buddy players up with others in the same position and work on their games individually.”
Woodruffe burst into senior football as a 16-year-old striker for Mt Gravatt Hawks and played for Brisbane Striker youth team during their National Soccer League reign.
However, a knee reconstruction prior to joining Pride in PlayStation 4 NPL Queensland competition meant he had to alter his approach from that of an out-and-out goal scorer.
“After my injury my game had to develop because in the past it was all about scoring goals,” Woodruffe explained.
“So I’m playing a little bit deeper now, which I did at Pride as well, and I’m trying to increase my influence on the pitch as a ball player and with my passing.”
As far as the team’s prospects for the upcoming season, Woodruffe said the signs were positive but was eager to temper expectations of a title tilt.
“Our aspirations are to make the finals series. We’re not thinking as far as winning the league yet, but it’s about playing Redlands' brand of football and blooding our younger players,” he concluded.
Sources at the club said that further signings in addition to Woodruffe and Fyfe will be confirmed in coming weeks.