FLASHBACK: Nathan McGrath (right) celebrates with coach Tye Ingebrigtsen (centre) after the Hervey Bay Seagulls won the Bundaberg Rugby League grand final against Waves Tigers in 2016.
FLASHBACK: Nathan McGrath (right) celebrates with coach Tye Ingebrigtsen (centre) after the Hervey Bay Seagulls won the Bundaberg Rugby League grand final against Waves Tigers in 2016. Matthew McInerney

Former president optimistic about Seagulls' plight

LEAGUE: Nathan McGrath's emotions overflow as the siren sounds.

Wearing the Hervey Bay Seagulls' black polo, McGrath, and much of the proud rugby league club's bench and supporters, is euphoric after the club broke a 15-year premiership drought courtesy of a 20-12 come-from-behind win against Waves Tigers in the 2016 Bundaberg Rugby League grand final.

It was his last moment with the red and green, until Thursday night when he returned to Stafford Park, the home of the Hervey Bay Seagulls, albeit in a much more sombre mood.

McGrath, the son of a former club president who himself served as president in 2015-16 but spent a decade playing and coaching, was there to answer questions about how the club was run during those successful years.

In the two years since, the club has accumulated a six-figure debt.

"There is an emotional connection, and a lot of people who were on that committee had that same connection, and I'm sure they're feeling the same way," McGrath said.

"There were some questions about payments people believed were made and figures we paid our coach and development officer (Tye Ingebrigtsen), but I was able to set that record straight. He brought in a lot more money than he was paid, and the club didn't pay him that much."

McGrath, like others who attended the meeting and contacted the Chronicle, said it was disappointing most members of the 2017 and 2018 committees were not present.

McGrath did not blame anyone, and admitted he was not envious of Seagulls president Jim Russell's task.

"This is not the fault of the current committee, they've only been there for three weeks, and while I've only spoken to Jim at that meeting he seems like an honourable bloke," McGrath said.

"He was very honest at the meeting and people have to trust he and his committee will do the right thing by the club. I think they have the best interest of the club at heart."

While he has moved on, McGrath didn't rule out a return to the club with whom he won a title.

"I've moved on and currently not interested in a role as I've got other priorities," he said. "Never say never."



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