FIRST INTERVIEW: Seagulls name Sami as coach
LEAGUE: Respect for each other and the game will be one of the key messages new Hervey Bay Seagulls coach Fai Sami drums into his players when the club returns for preseason training tonight.
Sami was announced as the Seagulls' new coach after the club's successful AGM on Tuesday night, where Jim Russell was formally voted in as president.
He has been involved as both a rugby league player and coach for decades.
A former premiership winner at Goodna in the Ipswich Rugby League, Sami also coached Souths Brisbane's younger players when his son Phillip rose through the ranks.
Phillip just finished his first season in the NRL at the Gold Coast Titans.
For Sami, who coached the Seagulls' under-18s to the finals this year, he takes on one of Bundaberg Rugby League's most unwanted roles: steering the wooden spooners from the doldrums and back to the top of the table.
It is a challenge he is willing and able to tackle front-on, but admitted it would take time.
"It's a bit slow in the league here - Brisbane is a lot different - but there's a lot of talents around here,” Sami said.
"There's a few good kids around here, and my main goal is to get them playing football. There's about five players from the under-18s who can play A-grade.
"Every club I've been to, I've got a lot of respect. This is a community thing - just play together and be happy with what you've got. I love it.
"I'm not going to promise a grand final .This is a long term thing and we have to build, we have to get a lot of new young players coming through.”
The Seagulls finished last in the A-grade competition with one win and one draw in a particularly tough season.
Hervey Bay won three straight minor premierships from 2015 to 2017 before the 2018 horror season, during which the club used more than 50 different players in 16 A-grade games.
The doors have been thrown open as the Seagulls prepare for the 2019 season.
"Everybody is welcome to training. We're going to play touch, have a bit of fun for a couple of weeks and we'll go from there,” Sami said.
"We're not chasing players for money. If you're good engouh, you can move up and chase that, but being a local club, we're not doing that.
Training starts at 5.30pm.