QUEANBEYAN Blues prop Matt Holmes says the signing of new coach Simon Woolford will bring added focus to the club as it looks to end a four-year premiership drought.
The Blues will commence their 2013 preseason campaign next Tuesday with Woolford set to put his new-look squad through its paces for the first time.
With more than 250 games of NRL experience under his belt, Woolford brings a rare pedigree to arguably the most high profile coaching position in local rugby league.
“It’s a privilege to play under a bloke like [Simon], he knows what he’s talking about and he loves his footy,” Holmes said. “It’s always a learning curve with him. He throws stuff at you and you’ve just got to adept but I think he’ll be good for the club.
“It’s a big change, I think everyone is going to be more focused and ready to go. We know we’ve finally got to get another premiership up for the club.”
Holmes previously played under Woolford as a member of the ACT representative side.
While the Blues have announced a number of high profile signings for next season including former Canberra Raiders players Trevor Thurling and Marc Herbert, the club has also been hit with a number of offseason departures.
The Blues will be without key outside backs Dennis Gordon and Adam Misios, halfback Matt Nicoll and lock Mitch Day next year, all of whom have moved on from the club.
Earlier this week meanwhile, Holmes was awarded as the club’s first grade best and fairest for 2012 at the Blues annual presentation evening.
Holmes was a stand out in the Blues front-row throughout the year and took out the award at what was a low-key end of year function for the competition heavyweights.
The timing of the Wednesday’s event was also somewhat incongruous, coming less than a week before the Blues are set to begin preseason training.
Neither Woolford, nor former coach Adam Doyle were in attendance.
In the club’s other major awards, Daniel Lucas was named as reserve grade player of the year while Matthew Kennedy received the same honour in the under-18s.
Dayne Ewings took out the first grade players player award. Reserve grade players player went to Luiaki Ahosivi, while Brad Mckeahnie claimed the award in the under-18s. Ron Hoare was named as the Blues club person of the year.
It was also confirmed that the Blues number eight jersey will be retired for the 2013 season in memory of prop Jay Lasscock who passed away earlier this year.