IT'S been a long time between drinks, but Chris 'Bully' Osborne is set to take the reigns at St Pat's first grade once again.
Osborne was captain-coach of St Pat's back when the blue and whites made it to the Group 10 preliminary final in 2007.
He admitted he isn't entirely sure how he ended up with the gig, but he's keen to take it on.
"I think I just mentioned something to [St Pat's president] Gary Goldsmith one night," he said.
"I said it was something that interested me again and I was keen to get to back into it and here we are."
He's been coaching his kids for the past few years and his last senior gig was in 2018, when he was the captain-coach of the St Pat's reserve grade team.
There'll be no chance of seeing Osborne pulling the boots back on, the 46-year-old confirming his playing days are definitely over.
Taking over from Zac Merritt, who was coach since 2019, Osborne is keen to continue the work his predecessor has done.
"I think the platform's been laid by Zac. He's done a great job over the past few years," he said.
"We've got a really good core of players there, through to the lower grades.
"Injuries cruelled us this year. I think if we didn't have the seven-odd injuries, they would have given the comp a fair shake."
While he's confident with the crop of players his got, Osborne hasn't ruled out making any signings ahead of the 2024 season.
"I'm happy with the squad we've got but you know, fresh blood is good," he said.
"Hopefully we can attract some new players. It's always good to just bring some new ideas in.
"Sometimes people move from out of town and they might bring some more enthusiasm into the club, so it's always good to add."
While Merritt won't be coaching the team in 2024, Osborne is glad that he's still at the club and he'll be able to lean on him for advice.
"I've already spoken to Zac and he was my first phone call," he said.
"He's done a magnificent job over the years. He's a great bloke and I'm hoping he sticks around.
"He gives us so many options. He's a big fella, but he's great on his feet.
"He's good to have around the club too."
The top-level of rugby league has changed drastically in the region since Osborne was last coaching, with Group 10 and Group 11 first grade and under 18s merging last year, before reserve grade and league tag completed the transition in 2023.
Osborne admits it'll be a tougher challenge than before, now going up against a host of tough clubs from Group 11.
"You look at some of the Group 11 sides and they've won the last two years," he said.
"The extra distance and just the quality across the west is a bigger challenge now.
"I think it'll be good for a Group 10 club to win it and hopefully that's next year and it's us."