NEW COACH: Gary Widdop, father of Gareth Widdop (player for the St George Illawarra Dragons) has signed as coach of the under-18 Devils for 2015.
NEW COACH: Gary Widdop, father of Gareth Widdop (player for the St George Illawarra Dragons) has signed as coach of the under-18 Devils for 2015. Craig Warhurst

Footy wisdom passed on

How long have you been living in Gympie?

My wife and I have only been in town for six weeks after moving from Melbourne but bought property here six months ago at The Palms, Gympie.


What made you move to Gympie?

My family and I used to vacation up here often 16 years ago in places such as Noosa and Fraser Island.

I guess Gympie reminds me of home in a small country town with a friendly, close knit community where everyone knows everyone.


How did you come across the position of U18's coach for 2015?

President of the Gympie Junior Devils Club, Darren Burns, heard I was moving up hear and asked if I would be interested in filling the role of coach.


What do you like most about coaching the U18s rather than other grades?

I enjoy teaching the younger grades rather than seniors because I can pass on my knowledge and experience about the game.

You get a lot more out of this age group.


When did you become involved in the sport of rugby league?

After leaving the British Royal Navy in 1986, after being a clearance diver since 1979, took up the sport when I was 24.

I began playing in Halifax, West Yorkshire seniors team and later the Keighley Cougars seniors team.

I started coaching the open seniors Halifax amateur teams in the Pennine Amateur Ruby League Cup which is a representative tournament similar to the Queensland rugby league titles before later coaching the King Cross team in the Halifax Competition.


What other sports did you play?

While in the Navy and even before I boxed for a few years.


When did you move to Melbourne?

We moved to Melbourne when Gareth was 16 after being invited to the Melbourne Storm Academy by Dean Lance who is a former Australian professional rugby league footballer and coach, and current football manager at the North Queensland Cowboys of the NRL.

Gareth was selected after playing in the under 18 Victoria State Cup team in the Australian Schoolboys Cup.


What coaching did you do while in Melbourne?

I was coaching almost six days a week. I was committed to the U17s Altona Roosters team as well as the U19s local state Victoria team the Colts and the U18 representative Melbourne Storm team which Gareth was playing in at the time. I was also involved with Bayside Secondary College whose rugby league program was funded by Melbourne Storm and played in the Victoria U18 schoolboys competition.

Once Gareth moved into the U20s league I became less involved with the clubs and took a time out.


What is your proudest moment?

My proudest moment would have to be when Gareth played with the Melbourne Storm, winning the 2012 NRL Premiership.


What is your major goal you would like to achieve with the club this year?

My main purpose is getting numbers back up this year and encourage all players back to push them that one step further. I have already been fairly impressed by the raw skills of the players and look forward to breaking down these necessary skills to further develop the players as individuals taking them to bigger and better levels.


What has been the best part of playing and coaching rugby league over the last 20 years?

Most of all I enjoy the camaraderie of the sport because we are like one big family.

I have generated a wide networking community of people right around the world due to my involvement in the sport and I would not have been able to do that without rugby league.


When will the official U18 Devils season start?

We have already had two training sessions this year and the season will begin nearing the beginning of April.


Player profile

Name: Gary Widdop

Age: 52 next week

Born: Halifax

Favourite food: I love anything spicy. For the last 30 years I've always done the cooking.

Favourite TV program: Anything on the Discovery channel, I enjoy documentaries.

Favourite music: Northern Soul which was popular in Northern England.

Favourite movie: Matrix.

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