Luke Wilkshire wants to build ‘something special’ at the Wollongong Wolves and the ex-Socceroos great believes he’s got the tools to help the club reach new heights.
The 36-year-old officially traded in his boots for the clipboard this week after becoming the Wolves new head coach following the departure of Jacob Timpano.
The news comes as the Wolves look to put the finishing touches on their A-League expansion bid, due Friday.
A 80-time Socceroo, Wilkshire will be assisted by former Leeds United striker Michael Bridges in his first foray into coaching.
The Albion Park product has also began to assemble a formidable support staff, which he hopes will help propel the Wolves to a new level of professionalism in the coming seasons.
“The club has developed and evolved to a certain point and we want to go that bit further,” Wilkshire said.
“By bringing in that professionalism and trying to get it to another level by really achieving things and building something special.
“I am very lucky to come across some true professionals and people I know who can help take this club to another level. People like Grant [Barlow] and Michael Bridges, with Luise Lago also coming on-board.
“They are professionals, who have a passion and knowledge for the game and know what’s needed.”
Barlow will play a pivotal role in the club’s strength and conditioning and Lago is set to provide statistical analysis.
Timpano will stay involved in the club as the Wolves SAP technical director.
The complete make up of the club’s coaching staff is still to be determined, but Wilkshire ruled out the idea of a being a player-coach in 2019.
The defender played on 11 occasions for the Wolves last season, but intends to pour all of his focus into the new role.
“I feel things happen for a reason. This opportunity came and I feel like it has come at the right time,” Wilkshire said.
“My playing days are done.
“You can’t play forever and I am fortunate to have this opportunity from the board and the club.
“I am excited by the challenge.”
Bridges said Wilkshire’s involvement attracted him to take up an assistant coaching role.
The former English Premier League and A-League striker most recently spent time as an assistant coach at the Newcastle Jets, but will make the move closer to the Illawarra to work at the Wolves.
“Seeing what they want to do as a club in the future and the professionalism Luke wants to bring to the club made the decision a no-brainer,” Bridges said.
“I wanted to get involved with a club.
“One of them was another NPL team in Sydney and one of them was in the Newcastle State League.
“To come to the Wolves ticks the boxes as I also do quite a bit of media work in Sydney.
“I am looking forward to being a part of it.”