Bathurst Panthers will have a new-look coach in the 2017 Group 10 league tag season, in the form of Canobolas Rural Technology High School teacher Monique Christie-Johnston.
Christie-Johnston is no stranger to leading roles, having captained the Panthers since the inaugural season in 2012, despite working in Orange.
“It was something I've also wanted to do in my career, when the opportunity came around," she said.
“The club gave me a call and I jumped at it.
“Being a PE teacher, coaching is something I like doing and I've coached the Western (School Sports Association) touch team before.”
Christie-Johnston believes having an experienced – she was a part of the Western Rams squad in 2016 – league tag player, rather than a rugby league veteran, will be of huge benefit to her side.
“It’s a totally different sport to rugby league and hopefully I bring some of the skills and techniques I know from playing, to the coaching scene,” she said.
Panthers will be without star player Tilly Power, she suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury.
Christie-Johnston said it has been “a bit hard to take” but knows Power will be fighting to be back as soon as possible.
It has also left the team with a frustrating situation in the halves, after the injury.
Both Christie-Johnston and Jess Hotham will look to fill the hole left by Power.
Hotham returns to the Panthers squad in 2017, after missing 2016 due to maternity leave.
When asked on the future possibility of a women’s tackle rugby league competition, she said it is something the Country Rugby League is “pushing for”.
“Rugby league has always been a male dominated sport and it would be good to get a tackle competition started,” Christie-Johnson enthused.
Christie-Johnston said she will have plenty of support, with Dave Power, Dave Hotham and Dave Elvy set to lend a helping hand in her new role.