O'Brien returns to North Ipswich to coach premiers
ANTHONY "Nobby" O'Brien has either the easiest or toughest job in Ipswich Rugby League next year.
Some might say taking over the back-to-back champions means there is only one way you can go.
But it seems O'Brien is a glass-half-full kind of guy.
The former Tigers A-grade coach has stepped in to fill the breach left by the departure of successful 2014-15 coach Mick Newton.
This year O'Brien led the Brothers under-19s to grand final triumph.
But he didn't know the club's A-grade coach Dean Daylight was leaving when he was asked to take over at Norths.
O'Brien, who played for Brothers and was assistant coach there under Bob Lindner almost a generation ago, coached Norths to their 2006 A-grade grand final loss to Brothers.
"Coaching A-grade wasn't on my radar," the 50-yerar-old Ipswich City Council employee said of his latest appointment.
"But when an opportunity comes up and you're asked to do it, you have to consider it."
O'Brien took little convincing, because he knows the Tigers club well and likes what is happening at the place.
"They're a good bunch of blokes and it's a successful place," he said.
"I knew most of the blokes and get on well with them.
"It would be a bit daunting coming in and not knowing anyone."
O'Brien knows there is pressure on him to succeed immediately.
Anything less than a premiership would be a failure, given Norths have won the past two A grade titles.
But if O'Brien is affected by the pressure he's not showing it yet.
He is not the sort to come in and try to change things.
Rather, he sees his job as making sure the cogs remain oiled to keep an effective machine running smoothly.
"The expectation of success is there," he said.
"But they're a good side, with a good culture and the club has good juniors. They could be on the cusp of some good things over the next five years.
"I've just got to make sure everybody coming into the club is buying into the same idea.
"There's a lot of experienced players.
"O'Brien also sees parallels with Norths now to where Brothers were some years ago, with a dominant junior base translating into long term senior success.
"There were a lot of senior players at Brothers who had been in the system a long time," he said.
"The younger players buy into it.
'"Like turning up to train and play with the right attitude and knowing how to prepare yourself.
"Norths are at the same point at the moment."
Despite that, O'Brien is actively looking to improve the playing roster by attracting some new players to the club.
But he also knows that a happy club is a successful club, from the juniors through to A grade.
"There's a couple of players I want to get in contact with," O'Brien said.
"I'm not doing my job if I'm not asking players what they're doing next year.
"I just want us to make sure everyone has an enjoyable year," he said.
"You've got to be successful in A-grade and under-19s to have a successful club - and the juniors are a big part."
"It's just a matter of making sure everyone's heads are in the right spot."