IT’S a long way from the snowy Oberon highlands to the steamy North Queensland centre of Cairns, but former Oberon Tigers lock Matt Wakefield is making that transition in 2018.
The veteran forward was a late pick-up by Tigers captain-coach Luke Branighan this season, with the former Group 2 and Group 9 hardman helping lift the Tigers to their first Group 10 grand final in 42 years.
But Wakefield’s stint in Western Division has been a short one after he agreed to captain-coach the Mareeba Gladiators in the Cairns District Rugby League next winter.
The Mareeba Gladiators finished the A grade premiership in 2017 second on the ladder, but were eliminated from the title race in the preliminary final.
The Mareeba club praised Wakefield on its Facebook page in announcing the addition of the tough lock.
“We are very excited about what Matt will bring to the club next season,” president Andrew Foster said.
“He is very enthusiastic and wants to lead by example on the field as player-coach in A grade.”
The loss of Wakefield will be offset by the additions of Josh Starling and Mickey Hawkins in the middle of the field for Oberon, while a host of the club’s juniors have also committed to 2018 at the club.