FORMER Huddersfield Giants hero Brad Drew has thanked the Super League club for helping him take a major step towards his coaching dream.
When the highly-popular hooker returned to Huddersfield for a second one-season spell in 2010, the Australian was handed the dual role of player and Under 20s coach.
It was a deal that helped Drew take a first decisive step on the coaching ladder.
The 37-year-old wasted little time making his mark, and within months of returning Down Under he had been handed an RL development role with the Australian NRL, based at the Penrith Panthers Stadium.
And this year he was appointed the head coach of the Australian Institute of Sport Under 17s squad, taking over from legendary Warrington coach Brian Johnson.
His first role has been to take charge of the current five-game tour of England, France and Wales, which comes to an end this weekend.
That gave Drew the chance to call in at the Huddersfield club and say a massive ‘thank you’ to the staff who played a key role in keeping his coaching dream alive.
The popular former Canberra Raider also had the chance to visit his old friends around town and put the wheels in motion for a family trip back to West Yorkshire in the not-too-distant future.
“Being able to catch up this week with people around the area has been fantastic,” said Drew, whose family lived in Meltham during their six years in England.
“Seeing so many of my old friends in the village was absolutely fantastic. It felt as if I’d never been away.
“Paying a visit was always very high on my agenda, as was going to the stadium.
“I was always very keen for the AIS squad to see a Super League club train, and the Giants was the obvious option.
“It was a chance for me to say ‘thanks’ for what they did to me during my time at the club.
“Not only did I enjoy every single minute of my time at Huddersfield – being man-of-the-match in our Challenge Cup semi-final victory over Leeds Rhinos in 2006 has to be one of my proudest moments in the game – I owe the club so much for helping me get my coaching career up and running.
“I always wanted to go into coaching when my playing career came to an end, but getting an opening can often prove difficult.
“Fortunately, that’s something the Giants were able to give me, and I’ll always be indebted to them for that.
“That 20s role then helped me get the RL development role when I returned home and made it possible to be appointed head coach for the AIS.
“Things couldn’t be working out much better for me.
“Although visiting Huddersfield has obviously been a massive personal highlight for me, I’ve enjoyed the entire tour.
“But when I next return – and hopefully pretty soon with the family – it’s the intention to stay around Huddersfield for a lot longer.
“I definitely want to be around to see the Giants win a game or two!”