IT'S not surprising that the now former Panthers A-grade coach, Layton Campbell, rates his final game in charge, the 22-18 semi-final loss to Tannum, as the low point of his two-year stint at the club.
Campbell, who signed as an unknown rookie after pulling on the boots in the lower grades at Illawarra and North Sydney and in England, continued his crusade against the refereeing standard in the Gladstone Rugby League (GRL).
The Brisbane-bound coach, who, in last week's Central Telegraph labelled the refereeing in the semi-final loss as “horrendous”, and has criticised the refereeing several times throughout the season, said 50-50 calls often seemed to go against the Panthers.
“I don't want to sound like a sore loser, but it was really disappointing for the bloke in the middle to decide the game,” he said.
“As a coach I am accountable and so are the players.
“The referees ... need to find consistency.
“It's something the GRL need to look at.”
Campbell, 32, said the highlight of his tenure came in his first season, when they came within one game of the grand final.
He also pointed to wins over competition heavyweights Gladstone Brothers and Yeppoon at the feared Rainbow Street Panthers den this season as a high point in a season that started strongly in the Challenge Cup, but petered out as losses mounted and the team tumbled down the ladder.
Campbell blamed a lack of stability in the team through injuries and work commitments as a major factor in the disappointing finish.
But he believes his legacy has been an improved commitment and fitness in the players to play for the full game, a trait not strong enough in past Panthers teams.
“The team that I fielded each week gave their all,” he said.
“I hope they (players) learnt, you do the hard work and commitment - you get the results.
“You don't beat the teams we beat by not showing up.”
Campbell, who expects to take up an assistant coaching position with the Wynnum Seagulls in the Queensland Cup, has learnt what every player who takes up the clipboard suffers.
“You can't make the tackles or run the ball from the sidelines.”
With the support of outgoing club supremo Alec Andrews and senior players, Campbell instigated a players' code of conduct for on and off-field behaviour for the roster that saw some fined early on.
He said it was part of the process to build a strong relationship between the club and the community.
“I was disappointed not to bring a premiership, but I think the club has taken steps forward in my time.”
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