Aumua to take on Camels head coaching role

Camels veteran player Mark Aumua (at centre with the ball) has taken on the role as head coach of the team this season. ▪ File photo

After a disappointing 2023 when the Cobar and District Rugby Union Club (“the Camels”) forfeited almost the entire second half of the Western Plains Zone competition, the club’s prospects in 2024 have received a massive boost by the appointment of Mark Aumua as coach.

Aumua is no stranger to the townspeople of Cobar.

He has been a great contributor to the community, whether that be as a sportsperson or a member of the Fire Brigade, and that is set to continue.

Aumua will head a coaching panel which incorporates a level of expertise capable of both teaching the fundamentals of the game of rugby as well as coaching the Camels to the highest level.

Aumua will be directly assisted by Nick Prass and Deon Gordon who have both recently taken up positions of employment at Peak Gold/Aurelia as senior health advisors.

He will further enlist the assistance of current local players and former Camel coaches Steve Gillette and Tony Jacklin who have been integral parts of the Cobar Camels club for many years now.

While the Camels appointment is Aumua’s first as head coach, his profile as a rugby union and rugby league player is daunting.

Aumua started his rugby career in Manurewa (a suburb in South Auckland, New Zealand) as a schoolboy.

“I played 1st XV rugby for James Cook High School as a Winger and Flanker.

“I then progressed to playing rugby for Manurewa ‘Rewa’ Rugby Union Club,” Aumua said.

“This club was founded in 1921 and is historically the most successful club in the Counties Manukau Union boasting previous players like Wallaby, Sekope Kepu and All Black, Lelia Masaga.”

Aumua migrated to Australia in the early 1990s and played Rugby in Brisbane for Camira/Woogaroo Rugby Union Club (now Goodna Gladiators) in the Queensland Suburban Rugby Union competition for several years.

“I then played for Sunnybank Dragons Rugby Union Club as a Number Eight in the Queensland Premier Rugby Union competition also captaining the Queensland Samoa Rugby Union team.

“Interspersed in those years were rugby league stints with the Manurewa Marlins (NZ), Goodna Eagles, North Ipswich Tigers (Ipswich RL, Qld), and Camden Haven Eagles (Group 3, CRL).”

Aumua has also represented Queensland Corrective Services and Fire and Rescue NSW in Rugby League and Rugby Union.

He finished his career as a rugby league and union player in Cobar playing for the Cobar Roosters and Camels, including playing for the Camels last year.

“I am a big believer in club culture and history, and I look forward to hopefully instilling these values into prospective Camels players who pull on the green and gold in 2024,” Aumua said.

Roosters or Camels who have played beside Aumua will attest to his knowledge of both games, his leadership, his competitiveness, his toughness, and sheer will to win on the field, traits which the Camels can aspire to and emulate in 2024.

The knowledge and support Nick Prass and Deon Gordon can bring to the Camels and to the Rugby Club itself is boundless.

Prass has a long background with the Brothers Rugby Club in Brisbane and maintains a strong connection with high performance coaches, former Wallaby, Blake Enever and former All Black, Hosea Gear.

His son Finn Prass played for the Australian Schoolboys and is currently contracted to the Western Force in Super Rugby.

Prass is keen to put in place a program to support Camels’ player development, to discuss preseason preparation and requisite technical skills using his Brisbane connections.

The development of the rugby careers of Gordon’s two sons, Carter and Mason, has ensured that he now has, by association, a critical knowledge of the game of rugby and its latest protocols and strategies.

Carter Gordon was selected by Eddie Jones as the single Wallaby fly-half for the 2023 World Cup and who (in the circumstances) affirmed himself as a world class footballer.

Both Carter and Mason are contracted to the Rebels in Super Rugby so it may be that dad may need to don the boots for the Camels to illustrate the “Gordon magic” on a local level.