NEW MENTORS: Vaughn Dawes and Steve Spencer (front) are looking forward to guiding the Coffs Harbour Comets this year.
NEW MENTORS: Vaughn Dawes and Steve Spencer (front) are looking forward to guiding the Coffs Harbour Comets this year. Sam Flanagan

Comets focussed on the future

RUGBY LEAGUE: The Coffs Harbour Comets are looking to the future following former coach Brandon Costin's appointment to the Fiji national team.

The club has installed co-coaches for the 2019 season, with assistant Vaughn Dawes stepping up to partner Steve Spencer, who will captain-coach.

Dawes has served as an assistant to the last three Comets coaches and was captain-coach of the club in the early 2000s.

Dawes said he wasn't aspiring to be in the top job again, but was ready to tackle it head on.

"As an assistant you're just talking and gelling with the players and making sure everyone is happy,” he said.

"It's taken me a bit by surprise to be honest, but I'll enjoy it without having the pressure to play as well.”

With only a month until the kick-off to the Group 2 competition, the new mentors don't have long to work with their squad.

Dawes said this shouldn't be a problem as the culture Costin has left behind is a strong one.

"Brandon has instilled good accountability within the team to the point where when he was playing second grade last year the boys would run their own warm-ups,” he said.

"Brandon had belief in them and they trusted each other, so why rock that boat? They're a self-sufficient group.

"We've mentioned that at some stage we'll have to stop referring to Brandon because he's gone now and we'll do things our own way.”

The Comets' first pre-season hit-out might not have gone to plan last weekend, but Dawes said player movements would take time to get used to.

"That game against Tweed was a kick in the guts because we have been training really well, but it's not until you go into a match situation you realise there is a lot more to do.”

Dawes acknowledged the side would have a target on their back being reigning premiers, but said the club thrived on grudge matches.

"We've always had four local derbies and it doesn't matter if you're first or last, they're always a tough game. Throw into that Macksville ... and the two Grafton teams and we've got rivals everywhere.”