Former NRL playmaker Luke Branighan signs as Oberon Tigers captain-coach

ON HIS WAY: Former NRL playmaker Luke Branighan has signed a two-year deal to captain-coach the Oberon Tigers Group 10 premier league side.
ON HIS WAY: Former NRL playmaker Luke Branighan has signed a two-year deal to captain-coach the Oberon Tigers Group 10 premier league side.

THE Oberon Tigers will continue their push to end a Group 10 premiership drought dating back to 1975 with former NRL playmaker Luke Branighan at the helm as captain-coach for 2017.

After four seasons as mentor with the Young Cherrypickers, during which time they reached the Group 9 finals three times, and after guiding the Queanbeyan Blues this year, Branighan decided it was time for another challenge and has signed a two-year deal with the Tigers to captain-coach the premier league side.

“We had the feelers out looking for a few players and he took the bait we put out for him,” Oberon president Ian Christie-Johnston said.

“After a couple of meetings with him we came to an agreement. We wanted him and he was interested in coming here. He comes with some pretty good credentials. He’s got quite a bit of experience in the NRL and CRL under his belt.”

As well as proving himself as a coach, Branighan brings a lot of experience as a player.

He made 15 appearances for St George and one for Cronulla, then went on to play in England for Gateshead Thunder and Halifax.

There is also the chance Branighan could bring more talent to the Tigers with him as he tries to end a long-standing Group top-grade premiership drought.

“They haven’t won a comp for 45 years, but there is some great young talent there and a fantastic supporter base,” he told the Sunday Telegraph.

It was the emerging talents at Oberon which played a major role in attracting Branighan to the Tigers.

He is keen to further their progress in premier league and build on the work started by former captain-coach Zac Rowlandson.

“The young guys – that was one of the major drawcards for him,” Christie-Johnston said. “A couple of our younger players will come up from under 18s next year and have really come on well in the last 12 months. Luke said he could see quite a lot of promise there.

“Zac is still going to be around helping next year. He said he is not going to play, but I know Zac. I can’t see him hanging his boots up for good.”