Wallabies legend Toutai Kefu will lead Queensland Country in the 2016 NRC, with both Queensland sides announcing new coaches for the third rendition of the competition.
Kefu will lead a star-studded coaching lineup with former All Blacks lock Brad Thorn also an assistant and returns to Australia after six seasons coaching Japanese Top League side Kubota.
Having recently taken up the Tonga head coaching role as well, Kefu said he was looking forward to returning home.
“I’m excited to be back in the system and looking forward to getting the R.M. Williams and chequered shirts out,” he said.
Kefu doesn’t have to look far to see the standard he will have to help Queensland Country get to, with two-time champions Brisbane City just up the motorway.
The new Country coach said his first goal was to knock their local rivals off, something they haven’t managed to do so far.
“They’re the benchmark two years in a row, obviously that’s our goal [beating Brisbane City]," he said.
Kefu won’t waste time in establishing an identity for his side, built on what he described as a touch individual who’s uncompromising, relentless and aggressive.
The 42-year-old will be leaning heavily on assistants Thorn and Jason Gilmore, who has been the top Country coach for the past two years.
“Those two have a lot more recent experience here than I do and I’ll definitely be leaning on them for a lot of help and advice,” he said.
“It will be a three-man head coaching panel."
Brisbane City has also brought in a new head coach, elevating assistant Rod Seib into the role to fill the void left by newly-appointed Reds coach Nick Stiles.
Stiles has credited his progression to his NRC experience and Seib said he was looking forward to taking the helm of the defending champions.
As assistant coach to newly named Reds coach Nick Stiles, Seib has seen two consecutive wins with the Brisbane City side and wants to continue that into the third NRC season.
“The standards for City have been set over the past two years and everyone has bought into that philosophy of hard work and enjoyment," he said.
"We’ve got a similar nucleus of players to what we had over the last two years and everyone is excited about the challenge that awaits us."
The 2016 NRC season starts on August 27 with Brisbane City going up against NSW Country Eagles at Sydney University, while Queensland Country go head to head with last year’s runners-up Canberra Vikings on Sunday August 28 at Bond University.