Former Scholars coach John Hawke to lead Yass Magpies revival

Former Belconnen United Scholars brains trust (from left) John Hawke and Matt Gafa will head up Yass Magpies' revival.
Former Belconnen United Scholars brains trust (from left) John Hawke and Matt Gafa will head up Yass Magpies' revival.  Photo: Karleen Minney

He revived Belconnen United into a premiership force and the challenge of trying to repeat the dose with Yass Magpies has proved too difficult to resist for John Hawke. 

Hawke has signed on as Magpies coach for next season when they return to the Canberra Raiders Cup fold after a two-year absence, due mainly to financial constraints. 

Their coffers aren't as full as some rival clubs and Hawke knows rebuilding the club will be more like Brad Pitt's Moneyball than Tom Cruise's Jerry Maguire

The club paid the price for spending money recruiting quality players from outside the region and Hawke doesn't plan on making the same mistake. 

"It certainly won't be 'show me the money', put it that way," Hawke said. 

"I want success, but if they're putting out three competitive sides each week and it's sustainable every year, that's my goal to start with. 


"If you don't look after the locals, they turn their back on it. Then you're in a world of trouble. 

"It's about creating that culture where everyone in the town wants to play, or get behind it. 

"Those players will want to come, rather than paying others massively over the odds to get them there.

"It's more about developing our own juniors and our own identity, so they have a future going forward."

The Magpies made the 2012 Canberra Raiders Cup preliminary final, but have spent the past two years in the second-tier George Tooke Shield competition. 

Hawke guided Belconnen to the 2012 premiership, having come on board in 2010 after the club won just one game the previous two years combined. 

Hawke has already signed former Scholars players Dan Scanlon, Matt Britt and Tim French, while former Canberra Raider Matt Gafa will be his assistant. 

But he insisted he's not guilty of poaching from his old club. 

"I'm still very good friends with people at the club, they know players I've coached may want to come and play with me," Hawke said. 

"It's not about stripping them. I could have gone after [key players] Mitchell Shaw or Tsai Tui, but I haven't. 

"Blokes know [I've gone to Yass] and they ring me. It's not me poaching them. 

"I've got to take the right mix with me and build the culture. I know Scanlan, Britty and Tim French are big trainers and will buy into it.

"I get a bit more satisfaction challenging myself with this type of thing, rather than a club which has got all the finances and it's just a matter of happening."