Wodonga Raiders snap up Tigers duo
The Wodonga Raiders are living up to their name after poaching two of Queanbeyan's best. Tigers midfielder Steve Jolliffe was announced as the rebuilding club's latest signing earlier this week. He'll join Queanbeyan teammate Ben Klemke at Birallee Park next season with Klemke already confirmed as the Raiders co-coach for 2014.
Klemke admitted the opportunity to take on a senior coaching role had come about sooner than expected. In taking on a co-coaching role with the Raiders, Klemke, 21, will become the youngest coach in Ovens and Murray league history. And he said he had no doubt his age would lead some people to write off his chances of turning Raiders' record around after the side won just three of its 17 games this season.
But the Henty junior said he had taken inspiration from cousin and current Queanbeyan coach Kade Klemke who was appointed Tigers coach at 21 before guiding the club to the 2012 NEAFL Eastern Conference premiership. “I took a bit of a leaf out of Kade’s book,” he said. “He’s obviously young as well but he’s got some good people around him at Queanbeyan and I’ll have some good people around me at Wodonga. “Other people are going to say you’re not ready but that just adds a bit of desire to prove them wrong. “Coaching is something I’ve always wanted to do. I didn’t expect the opportunity to come up this early but when it did I grabbed it.”
The former NEAFL rising star nominee also said a still burning desire to pursue a career in the AFL was a motivating factor behind the move south. “To be honest I think the standard [of the NEAFL and Ovens and Murray league] is pretty similar but you are a bit more on the radar in that part of the world,” he said. “AFL’s everything down there where up here the focus is more on rugby league and rugby union.”
Klemke was one of a host of players recruited to the Tigers following the club’s disappointing 2011 campaign. He played 37 games for the club over the past two years including Queanbeyan’s Eastern Conference grand final victory over the Sydney Swans Reserves in 2012. “I’ve only been here two years but the club has made me feel like I’ve been here my whole life,” Klemke said. “I was definitely tempted to stay on and it wasn’t a decision I made overnight.
“It’s going to be a bit upsetting to leave but I had to make a decision and I have every confidence that I made the right one.”
Article courtesy of the Border Mail