The Canberra Raiders have called on a club legend and former captain, and an Olympic gold medallist to develop the next generation of Green Machine leaders.
Alan Tongue played 220 NRL games for the Raiders - 96 of them as captain - and won the Mal Meninga Medal as the best-and-fairest player in 2006.
He's Canberra's new leadership manager, while Louise Dobson's the leadership facilitator.
Dobson won a gold medal with the Hockeyroos at the 1996 Olympic Games, a gold at the 1998 Commonwealth Games, earned 230 caps for Australia and was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for her service to sport.
They replace Chris Horsley, who spent the past six years looking after the Green Machine's leadership and culture.
The pair have already thrown themselves into their roles, with Tongue saying Dobson's attended more training sessions than the players.
He's come in with the motto of "slow to speak, quick to listen" as both he and Dobson look to empower the players to create the culture and leadership they want.
Tongue was excited to be back in the club's inner sanctum, having been working in the community in recent years.
He felt their roles would not only be to work with the playing group, but also in the Raiders' front office - while also helping the players give back to the community, given they were a community and family club.
"I probably take the same mindset when I do a lot of the community work as well - I'm not the one who needs to come in with all the answers," Tongue said.
"It's more about having the right questions to empower the players to come up with the answers.
"I think that's a big part of what I need to bring to the group.
"We all have a bit of an idea, a mindset, about what we'd like that culture to be, but at the end of the day it's the players' culture.
"And we've just got to make sure we create the right system and framework for them to build that and to be able to live that out and be accountable to it."
Dobson said the role came out of left-field given her career was in hockey, where she's still 10th on the all-time list for Hockeyroos games.
But she preferred to work in the leadership space in sports away from hockey.
That allowed her to focus purely on leadership rather than get drawn in to the technical side of the game.
But she did do a little bit of work with the leadership group last year, while she's also done some mentoring of athletes at the Youth Olympics.
She's been impressed by Tongue's passion, but she's also been impressed with the group of young players who have already started pre-season.
While the majority of the Raiders' senior players will begin their pre-season on Monday, the young guns - like Xavier Savage, Ethan Strange and Kaeo Weekes - have already been on the training track for a couple of weeks.
She said while the Raiders had already lost a lot of experience through the departures of Jarrod Croker (retired) and Jack Wighton (South Sydney) that opened doors for the young players coming through.
"This is a great opportunity for the Canberra Raiders right now with the change of personnel in their group," Dobson said.
"But also some incredible young athletes that are coming through that even in the last couple of weeks have just really impressed me in regards to the way they've handled themselves off the field.
"But also, they're up for it. With this staggered start [to pre-season] we're not waiting for athletes to come back.
"They are the driving force of the future of our club and we've really made the strong message from the start that you have a chance now to really write your own story of what you want this to look like. And I think they've really started to grasp that."
Raiders captain Elliott Whitehead has said he's going to retire at the end of the 2024 NRL season, while it could also be Jordan Rapana's last campaign in lime green.
It's why Raiders coach Ricky Stuart has brought in Tongue and Dobson to help fast track the leadership development amongst the young group.
"Alan and Louise have an enormous amount of experience in this area given their own sporting achievements," Stuart said.
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"My priority is assisting in challenging our players in going to another level of our values and standards as a Raider.
"We have a young squad who are in the early stages of their NRL careers. We need to bring forward/fast track their potential.
"We have an enormous opportunity and a heap of hard work ahead of us, a challenge we are looking forward to."
Joe Tapine, a candidate to replace Whitehead as captain when the time comes, was on Sunday named as a finalist for the International Rugby League Golden Boot award, along with Raiders NRLW fullback Apii Nicholls. The Raiders pair both impressed for New Zealand in their triumphant Pacific Championships campaign and will be out to continue that momentum in 2024.
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