Wharton says goodbye

Departing Dolphins coach Neil Wharton has spoken of his emotions at the end of a six-year reign.

Undoubtedly Redcliffe's most successful coach ever, Wharton bowed out at the end of a disappointing 2004 Queensland Cup season in which his side finished sixth.

"It was a case of yes and no," Wharton said. "My heart wanted me to stay but my head said no. "Under the current structure of the club I couldn't do the job to a level that I wanted. "I had spoken to the club at the start of the year about the position being a fulltime one, but unfortunately that was not the case. The situation makes it more difficult to move forward."

Wharton said he needed to take a break and look around for new challenges and ideas.

"During my six years at the club I had some great times, but the time had come to move on," he said. "The highlights were, of course, the three premierships, but more importantly the people I worked with. "It was never about coaching but more hopefully helping some blokes' lives. I wanted guys to help achieve their goals."

Wharton illustrated his point with Damian Richters, whom he said was playing reserve grade when he joined the Dolphins.

"He was battling in the reggies and is now a successful first grader, married with a baby," he said. "I'm not the most important bloke in his life, but to see these young fellows grow is very satisfying."

Wharton also nominated Troy Lindsay as the special player in his stint at the club. "Troy is the epitome of rugby league," he said. "He has a lot of ability and skill, but his biggest assets are his commitment and determination and love of the game.

"I hope he leaves the game in the right way. He was outstanding. "And, of course, Aaron Barba was a once in a lifetime experience. Andrew Wynyard was one of the buys for us as was Brian Jellick."

Wharton said he had been fortunate to have "great front office people, coaching staff and players" in his time at the club. "It was a very positive experience for me, but to be true to myself and Redcliffe it was time to move on," he said.