Stingrays' Shaw up for new job

FOOTBALL

It's a hard task stepping into a coaching role when the man before you was considered the competition's best mentor.

Add in a changing roster and tougher-than-ever playing schedule, and you'd be excused for thinking only a fool would consider taking the top job.

But for new Illawarra Stingrays boss Graham Shaw, it's a task he is ready to take on.

After spending years mentoring in the club's lower grades, Shaw will take charge from former head coach Brett Wallin this year.

And the Rays' new main man is ready to continue the club's strong legacy in the state's premier women's competition.

"I have got a very similar philosophy in football to Brett," Shaw said.

"I like the girls to work hard during the week and then getting on the field on a Sunday is just a natural occurrence for them. I play a very similar style. I like the ball to be kept for as long as possible and cared for ... holding possession and taking our chances when they come."

Shaw has had the chance to instil that playing style within many of the younger Stingrays generation during his years as the club's under-16s coach.

Now, many of those players are in a battle to claim first-grade spots.

"It is going to be a good challenge. We have got a younger squad generally but we still have that older base for the club as well which is good," Shaw said.

"It is sort of a transitional period for the club.

"One good sense is I guess that I have trained a fair few of the girls who have come through in the last couple of years in those younger teams."

Coupled with the new roster is a change in competition structure, which sees the top division cut from 12 teams to eight.

"It is going to a bit more challenging week in, week out. There is not going to be any weaker teams," Shaw said.

"It is going to benefit us as a team and in player development to consistently be playing against tougher opposition."

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