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New West End coach to return club to glory days

AIMING HIGH: West End's 2018 A Grade coach Jae Woodward wants the Bulldogs playing finals footy again.
AIMING HIGH: West End's 2018 A Grade coach Jae Woodward wants the Bulldogs playing finals footy again. Rob Williams

HE BLEEDS blue and maroon.

Which is why newly appointed West End A Grade coach Jae Woodward is determined to take the Bulldogs to finals football and ultimately a premiership in his tenure.

Woodward is as West End as you get.

The 36-year-old joined the Bulldogs in under eights and played for two decades in juniors and seniors before three shoulder reconstructions ended his playing career.

Woodward is fresh from coaching the Bulldogs to a Colts premiership last weekend.

In A Grade the Bulldogs had a poor 2017 and Woodward explained how he was going to turn it around.

"The big thing is culture,” he said.

"We need to have guys who are here for either two reasons - to play with their mates or as a stepping stone to go on and play at the Jets or a higher level.

"I don't want guys here that are chasing money. I want guys here for the right reasons.

"When I came in as a senior player at the club we had Des Dodd and Adam Rasmussen as the coaches or captain/coaches and the club was very strong.

"We had good assistants like Keith Polkinghorne and Cliff Sinn as well and all those blokes brought me through.

"We didn't win grand finals but there was a season when Raza (Rasmussen) had us where we went through as undefeated minor premiers but didn't make the grand final.

" For five or six years years in a row we finished third.

"We were very competitive and on our day could have beaten anybody, and that's what we need to get back to.”

Woodward, who played at prop for West End, said he was determined the club would not just make up the numbers next season.

The Bulldogs last won an A Grade premiership in 1990 and have made the grand final just once since, in 2000.

"I never got to win a grand final as a player at West End in A Grade, so the only way I am going to get my A Grade grand final is to coach it,” he said.

"I am competitive with everything I do and I do nothing half-hearted.

"I am going to aim for a premiership every year but it is going to be a long road back.

"It is probably not going to happen in the first year but by year two or three we want to be knocking on the door and playing in a grand final.”

Woodward has plans to bring former players back to the club who left in recent years who are playing at Souths-Logan and at other clubs.

He has a vast array of contacts in Ipswich rugby league which will assist in his recruitment goals.

Paul Hassett will be Woodward's assistant in 2018.

Hassett was Woodward's assistant in the Colts this year and has previously coached the Colts and 17s at the club to finals.

"Paul is another set of eyes and we bounce ideas off each other all the time,” Woodward said.

Woodward has previously coached the West End under 18s to the semi-finals, a side that had current Bulldogs back and former Ipswich Jets premiership winner Josh Cleeland in it.

Woodward was an interim coach in A Grade several seasons back after the coach that year left mid-season.

He was coach of the Ipswich Mal Meninga age division at the time and agreed to fill in so long as an A Grade coach was installed for the following year.

"They chased Randall Wilson and he did a really good job in his three years at the club,” Woodward said.

"While he didn't get the premierships or finals he really instilled a bit of belief and a culture down at the club.

"We lost our way a bit with that this year, and apart from our Under 19s it has been a tough year for our seniors. I think we can get that culture back and return the club to its former glory.”

Topics:  ipswich rugby league jae woodward west end bulldogs


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