Giant front rower Dane Tilse will take his first steps into coaching after agreeing to take on the Maitland under-19 side next season.
Tilse is keen to pass on some of what he has learned, and the Pickers see it as a real coup to keep the highly experienced former NRL star at the club.
"As well as looking after the 19s, he has agreed to help Luke Dorn prepare the first grade next season and will act as water boy on match days," club president Frank Lawler said.
"He's highly regarded by everyone at the club, so we're really pleased."
Tilse played 204 NRL matches, mostly with Canberra, but also for the Newcastle Knights, as well as a stint for Hull Kingston Rovers in the English Super League.
At the end of last season he and captain-coach Dorn announced their retirements and the club has been actively recruiting, hoping to improve on their fourth-placed finish last season.
"We've been pretty busy," Mr Lawler said.
In short, the Pickers have resigned the bulk of their first grade squad from last season, and have plugged the front row gap left by Tilse, signing not one, but two likely looking replacements.
"At the moment we still want to sign an outside back - and we're in discussions on that front - and a halfback."
The two props are Sam Anderson and Tyrone Amey.
Anderson has been playing with Redcliffe in Brisbane, and is a West Maitland junior, 2011 Knights under-20 player of the year and former Penrith Panthers first grader. At 28, he is in the peak of his career.
Amey, now 23, spent most of last season NSW Cup, but made his NRL debut for the Newcastle Knights in the last round of last season.
"We're happy, they're two good signings," Mr Lawler said.
The obvious hole at this stage is halfback where Ryan Walsh, last season's No.7, has returned to Wests.
In other news, the club is fighting to retain representative hooker Adam Clydsdale.
Clydsdale, last season’s player of the year, is struggling to fit in football around work commitments in the mines.
"We're still hopeful he'll be able to play," Mr Lawler said. "He has assured us if he plays in Newcastle, it will be with us, so that's something.
"Fortunately we have another fine hooker in Jarrod Smith who has just resigned for another two seasons. So we have the position covered, although obviously we’d love Adam to be with us again.
"Overall we're really happy with the forwards.”
Mr Lawler also said how refreshing it was to be able to negotiate with players without having money doubts over the club’s head.
"We still have a salary cap, but is easier knowing we have money available through club Maitland City,” he said.
“And the fact we have such a good home ground now is another element that makes negotiating easier.”
'"Also our under 19s won the grand final last season and we think two or three of them could push up into first grade next season too.
"So we think we're in good shape at this stage."
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