By Les Muir

The coaching landscape in Group Nine for 2018 is rapidly becoming crystal clear.

With one round before the finals, seven of the 11 clubs have locked in their coach for next year – and others are close to finalising their plans.

Officially, Albury (Adrian Purtell), Kangaroos (Ben Jeffery), Tumbarumba (Robbie Byatt), Southcity (Kyle McCarthy), Glen Buttriss (Cootamundra) and Young (James Woolford) are the clubs to have their coach in place.

Jeffery, Purtell, Woolford, Byatt, McCarthy and Buttriss are signed for 2018, butJames Smart is assured of retaining the coaching position at Gundagai for a third straight season.

Smart‘s popularity with the playing group at Gundagai is not as issue, and it is a formality for the playmaker to keep the role.

After months of trying to keep their future coaching plans a secret, Southcity and Cootamundra finally dropped the charade, announcing McCarthy and Buttriss to take over from Nick Skinner and Warren Lloyd respectively in 2018.

Like Skinner at Southcity, Matt Hands (Junee) and Grant Boyd (Temora) have decided to move aside,leaving the Diesels and Dragons to pursue someone new.

At Junee, it seems Trent Schuback is not an option, but a relatively big-name ex-Junee identity is apparently the favoured candidate.

Temora are believed to have their eye on a high-profile replacement for Boyd, who may be tempted to return to Cootamundra for a swansong under Buttriss.

Uncertainty, is also a factor at Tumut (Jarrad Teka) and Brothers (Terry Westblade).

Citing travel from Canberra as an obstacle, Teka is weighing up his options, while Westblade is unsure whether he will be in Wagga next year.

With Buttriss in the job, Warren Lloyd is out in the cold.

Coaching Capers

Club                             2017                                         2018

Albury                         Josh Cale                                 Adrian Purtell

Brothers                     Terry Westblade                      Uncertain

Cootamundra                Warren Lloyd                           Glen Buttriss

Gundagai                      James Smart                            James Smart

Junee                          Matt Hands                              Vacant

Kangaroos                     Ben Jeffery                            Ben Jeffery

Southcity                     Nick Skinner                            Kyle McCarthy

Temora                        Grant Boyd                                Vacant

Tumbarumba                Robbie Byatt                             Robbie Byatt

Tumut                          Jarrad Teka                              Uncertain

Young                          James Woolford                      James Woolford



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