Former Manly NRL player and coach Geoff Toovey has joined the Warringah rugby union club.
Former Manly NRL player and coach Geoff Toovey has joined the Warringah rugby union club.

Manly great Toovey’s shock rugby switch

NRL legend Geoff Toovey has not ruled out a full-time tilt at rugby coaching after a shock switch to Shute Shield club Warringah Rats.

Toovey has joined Warringah for the 2021 season, as assistant to head coach Michael Ruthven, but will also help the NSW women's State of Origin team this year.

Having coached Manly Sea Eagles for three seasons, from 2-12-15, and England's Bradford Bulls in 2017, Toovey is keen to return to full-time coaching in future and the 15-man code is now a live option.

"Definitely, without a doubt, that is why the buys who put me in touch with the Rats and Mike Ruthven are excited for me," Toovey said.

 

NRL legend Geoff Toovey (right) has joined rugby club Warringah Rats as assistant coach for the 2021 Shute Shield season.
NRL legend Geoff Toovey (right) has joined rugby club Warringah Rats as assistant coach for the 2021 Shute Shield season.

 

"I think it will open up a lot of possibilities for myself - I'm not the trailblazer, there's plenty who have gone before me.

"But in the short term I'm just interested in helping out the coaching staff down there and the players.

"It's a completely different game and I'll be honest, I'm getting my bearings as well. I'm sure it's going to be an evolution of things.

"I'm really conscious of the players and the time they've got to improve themselves, but they're very dedicated in that area.

"At this stage I'm very much on the skill-set side, and helping with the confidence and playing at different levels to where they're at. There's a lot of good young talent down there, so I've told them, 'I'm here to help you, if you think I can improve your game we will have a chat and go through it'.

 

Geoff Toovey coached Manly for four years before a season with the Bradford Bulls in the UK Super League. Picture: Gregg Porteous
Geoff Toovey coached Manly for four years before a season with the Bradford Bulls in the UK Super League. Picture: Gregg Porteous

 

"I've got a wide knowledge of young men, and people who want to aspire to be their best, whatever sport it is, so whether it's chatting about rugby or something outside of that to keep them focused and dedicated."

Toovey could follow in the footsteps of fellow NSW Origin and Kangaroos star Jason Ryles, who transitioned from league coaching to join Eddie Jones' staff for the England rugby team.

However, 51-year-old Toovey is hopeful that another NRL gig may arise on the back of his involvement with the women's Origin series this year as he assists first-time head coach Kylie Hilder.

"I am [hopeful of a return to NRL coaching], it's a tough gig but I've got an opportunity to help Kylie Hilder, they wanted some experience around her, so I'm loving being back in that arena," Toovey said.

"The girls in both codes, rugby and league, are excelling and it's one of the fastest growing participant sports for women. I'm happy to get back involved in that NSW vs. Queensland arena."

 

Toovey lives near his new home ground, Rat Park. Picture: Adam MacDonald
Toovey lives near his new home ground, Rat Park. Picture: Adam MacDonald

 

As for the Rats in 2021, Toovey is confident the team can improve on last year's effort when they were pipped 15-14 in the finals by eventual premiers Gordon.

"I've only been down for two sessions, it's a great bunch of players down there, a pretty youthful squad, they're looking to go places and be the best in their position and in the sport, so we're pretty upbeat about the season ahead of us,' he said.

"I'm a local, I live a kilometre down the road form Rat Park, I played as a junior for the Marlins from 12 to 15.

"It's my local team, I've had several mates who have played there in the past.

"A friend of mine knows Mike Ruthven, the coach, and said why don't you go down and give them a hand, he's a good young coach looking to go places, and he thought I could do some mentoring for the players and for myself as well, just give me a fresh way of looking at things."

Originally published as Manly great Toovey's shock rugby switch


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