NSW Waratahs coach Chris Hickey has hinted at a possible return to the Ballina Seahorses Rugby Union Club next season.
Hickey is nearing the end of a three-year contract and will meet with the Waratahs board at the conclusion of the Super Rugby season to decide his future.
The Tahs face the unenviable task of going up against the Blues in a qualifying final at Eden Park in Auckland tonight.
“It's always been an ambition of mine to get back to Ballina, but I have to get through this season first,” Hickey told the Northern Star from New Zealand yesterday.
“I enjoyed living in Ballina and can definitely see myself back on the Far North Coast helping out (Ballina first grade coach) Col Groves. Whether it's peeling oranges or running water, I'd like to be involved in some capacity.”
The NSW coach wouldn't be out of place, with his former Waratahs assistant Scott Wisemantel already involved with rival club Lennox Head Trojans.
Hickey's son Josh moved to the area earlier this year and has been playing lower grades at the Seahorses this season. He will make his first grade debut this weekend.
“My son is at the club now and really enjoys it,” Hickey said.
“I knew he would. It's a great club and a beautiful place to live.
“I hope to come and watch some games some time next month.”
Hickey coached Ballina to four consecutive grand finals in the early 1990s.
He then moved to Canberra powerhouse club Tuggeranong Vikings, before linking with Sydney club Eastwood and finally the Waratahs in 2009.
Despite injuries, coupled with the fact that the Tahs haven't won at Auckland in 80 years, he is refusing to give up on his team just yet.
“It's finals football and anything can happen,” Hickey said.
“We have blokes like Al Baxter and Phil Waugh finishing up, so we want to send them out on a high.
“Where do you even start with Phil Waugh? He's been a big part of the club for so long and it will be an end of an era when he leaves.
“We're enthusiastic about the chance to get a crack at the Reds in Brisbane next weekend, if we can get past the Blues.
“It's been a tough gig and a demanding job, but the rewards are there.”
Kick-off is 5.30pm.
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.