The Board

  • Geoff Coburn - President
  • Katie Brassil - Director
  • Robert Darcy - Director
  • Wayne Hore - Director
  • Tony Keating - Director
  • Sam Poolman - Director
  • Tony Price - Director
  • Philip Gardner - CEO

Wests Group Announces Successful Candidates Elected to the Board of Directors

The Wests Group Australia is pleased to announce the successful candidates elected to its Board of Directors following a recent ballot by members. Joining the existing Directors are newly appointed board member Tony Keating, along with re-elected directors Sam Poolman and Tony Price.

Tony Keating expressed his gratitude for the support of the members and his excitement for the challenges that lie ahead in his new role on the Board. He acknowledged the privilege of joining an organisation that is a leader in the Leisure and Lifestyle industry and sets standards for hospitality, leisure, healthy lifestyle, and sporting excellence, particularly through the development of Rugby League.

Tony brings to the directorship a depth and diversity of lived experience. A graduate of Newcastle University, following schooling in Newcastle, he has a professional background in teaching Economics and Business Studies. In recent years, he has held leadership roles in schools in the lower Hunter region. Tony also has a successful representative sporting background and administrative leadership with sporting and community groups, earning life membership in several of those organisations.

As a long-term elected Local Government representative, including his role as Deputy Mayor of Maitland City Council, Tony has played a significant role in shaping the infrastructure and social fabric of his community. His capacity to foresee and embrace opportunities is reflected in his successful small family business ownership in the transport and property sectors, as well as his interests in thoroughbred horse racing.

In response to the evolving landscape, Tony Keating highlighted the need for innovative strategies to create new opportunities for members and diversified income streams into the future. He also emphasised the importance of responding to probable legislative changes, new technologies, and generational shifts in member interaction and spending.

Geoff Coburn, President of the Wests Group, commented, "Wests is a business that thrives on change and challenge. We are excited to have Tony Keating join our Board to help navigate these changes and seize future opportunities, ensuring our continuing success. Tony's wealth of experience and his ability to build relationships will be valuable assets in our decision-making processes."

In addition to Tony Keating, the Wests Group is proud to welcome the reappointment of Sam Poolman and Tony Price to the Board of Directors. Geoff Coburn acknowledged their exceptional knowledge, experience, and passion for their respective sports, business, and community leadership, stating, "We are delighted to have Sam and Tony continue their contributions to the Board. Their expertise will be instrumental in driving the growth and relevance of the Wests Group."

Philip Gardner, CEO of the Wests Group, expressed his enthusiasm for the appointments, stating, "We are thrilled to have new board member Tony Keating join our existing directors Sam Poolman and Tony Price on the Board of Directors. Their passion, experience, and diverse skill sets will be invaluable in guiding the future of the Wests Group."

Welcome Sam Poolman

Changing Of the Guard

Local Elite Athlete Samantha Poolman named as Board Member for The Wests Group Australia

Owen Kilpatrick, who contributed 53 years of service on the board of Newcastle’s largest Clubs group – The Wests Group Australia, has announced his retirement. Owen who held Chair for sixteen years and who has over 50 years on the Board, has been responsible with The Board for driving the organisation through its most pivotal years in the 62-year history of the Wests Group.

Owen was succeeded by Geoff Coburn as Chair of the Group in 2022 and remained for a period as a board member, stepping down in retirement last month.

This move has paved the way for a new addition to the Board, and Wests today announced the vacancy has been filled by former elite athlete Sam Poolman, who played elite netball for the past ten years, Captained the Australian Team in 2018 in the Fast 5 Netball World Series and was a Board Member of the Players Association for many years.

Crediting her passion for netball and eagerness to give back to her community started with Wests Leagues Netball Club. Sam has been heavily involved and connected to the Wests community right through her career and continues today, coaching grassroots netballers from Wests Leagues Netball Club.

In fact, Sam has a pedigree of many life members within her family, including her paternal grandfather who was a founding member of the famed Wests 200’s Club, her brother Luke a life member of Wests Rosella’s and her grandmother, Trish a life member of Wests Leagues Netball Club. Sam claims that Wests has always been in her blood.

She has a strong belief that career successes arise from the values and personal attributes instilled in her in her early years playing sport and hopes that she can also perform an integral role in fostering a new generation of people to become active, healthy and valuable members of society through a life-long love of sport.

“As an elite athlete l have learned how to perform in a high-pressure environment. I have always placed a great deal of emphasis on setting good foundations and believe my foundations have led me to a long and successful career as an elite athlete, board member, brand ambassador and businesswoman. I have developed a well-rounded skill set and educational understanding which l believe will benefit The Wests Group in numerous areas, particularly in grassroots and women’s sport.” Comments Sam Poolman.

Alongside Sam’s board commitments she is a Director of Aspire Netball which has sustained success in our region, works as an Expert Commentator with Fox Sports for the Super Netball, works alongside a number of sporting organisation in the region, and is Head of Athlete Development and Foundation Officer at Newcastle Grammar School.

“I admire and respect Owen for his incredible contribution, his passion for West’s and the legacy he will leave on our community and the board for generations to come. His long service to the Wests Group and to the Rosella’s is unrivalled and something we won’t see again in our lifetime. I feel very privileged to be joining the board and commit to serving our members and community with the same passion and integrity.” Comments Poolman of former Wests Chair, Owen Kilpatrick’s recent retirement.

"We are thrilled to welcome Sam Poolman to The Wests Group Board, especially at a time when we are placing great emphasis on women's sport and grassroots development. With her extensive experience as an elite athlete, board member, and community leader, Sam will bring a fresh perspective and valuable insights to the table. Her appointment fills a significant gap left by Owen Kilpatrick's retirement and reflects our ongoing commitment to supporting local talent and promoting healthy, active lifestyles in our region." says Philip Gardner CEO, The Wests Group.

Welcome Tony Price

Changing Of the Guard

The Wests Group Australia has appointed Tony Price to the Board of Directors

Tony Price has formally been appointed as a Director of Western Suburbs (N'cle) Leagues Club Limited (and each company in the Wests Group) effective 27 October 2022.

Tony’s appointment to the Board will complement the Board's skills and experience and assist the Directors to fulfil their duties.

With a strong background in banking, his own successful business in the IT industry, and an avid Rugby League supporter, recently retired Price brings strong financial and business acumen to the group, joining the Board members to steer the region’s largest Club’s group into the future.

“Tony is a very welcome addition to the Board. He brings with him a wealth of knowledge of the business world having owned and operated a very successful business for many years. He has had a long and distinguished career in rugby league and is Life Member of the West Rosellas. Tony is a man of integrity and is someone who will be an effective team member. The Board are all excited about Tony’s appointment.” says Geoff Coburn, President of the Wests Group.

Tony’s success came from many years of hard work establishing a local IT business OAS which launched a successful platform of cloud-based technology with its headquarters in Newcastle and expanded rapidly over recent years. With offices and staff all over New South Wales and customers from all around the globe, it was a New York based fund that recently acquired the OAS business from Price, and in his words “freed up some time to be able to give back to the local community”, hence joining the Wests Board.

“I feel privileged to be able to join a team of strong leaders from the executive through to the board, of an already successful organisation, and can hopefully bring some strong business acumen to assist with further growth and ensuring relevance in the future. I’m committed to serving a Board which has an objective of being inclusive in our community.” adds Price

“One thing that has always struck me at every level of involvement with Wests is that they are good hearted, good minded, community people, who support local. At the end of the day Wests was started to propagate Rugby League, now it’s really sport in general, and everyone in the community can benefit by having an association with Wests.”

Tony played football for Wests throughout the 1990’s, was captain in 1997-1999, and was selected in the “team of the century” in 1999. He later became coach.

Tony, who is the father of 4 boys, lives in Bar Beach with his wife.

Changing of the Guard

After over 50 years on the Board, last 16 years as President, Mr Kilpatrick has stood down as President with the intention of retiring from the Board sometime early in 2023.

Director, Geoff Coburn, was unanimously elected by the Board to the position of President.

Geoff is committed to supporting the development of the West Rosellas in the Newcastle competition and the Newcastle Knights in the NRL in both Male and Female competition. Wests was originally established to promote and foster participation in Rugby League and remains true to that vision of the founding members.

“Owen is a person that I respect immensely. I have observed him lead the Board in many pivotal events over that time period. He has been a strong leader who has listened to the views of others and acted with honesty and integrity at all times. Owen will be remembered for his passion for Wests. Every decision that he made was underpinned by his strong values and what was in the best interest of our members and community. A Wests man through and through!” comments Geoff Coburn.

Owen Kilpatrick - Biography

Having played 135 grade games for the Western Suburbs Rugby League Football Club, Owen Kilpatrick was bestowed Life Membership of the Club. In 1971 at age 28 and the same year as he completed his on-field career Owen joined the Board as the youngest director. During Owen’s 51-year tenure, and more specifically during his 16 years as Chair, Wests has prospered from its early football beginnings to an organisation with more than 150,000 members and employing more than 1,200 staff across the Group. He was also instrumental in Wests' acquisition of the Newcastle Knights Rugby League team in 2017 and in fielding the Knights first-ever NRL Telstra Women’s Premiership side in the rescheduled 2021 season.

Geoff Coburn - Biography

Born and bred in Newcastle, Geoff Coburn has had a long association with Wests. He started playing with Wests in 1975 with the U19 team and progressed to play grade from 1976 -1980 and again from 1985-1988. As a semi-professional league player, he played in the NSWRL Premiership with Parramatta and Newtown from 1981 to 1984 before returning to the West Rosellas. Geoff was awarded Life membership of the West Rosellas Rugby League Club for playing 100 1st Grade games. He played a number of reserve grade games for the inaugural Newcastle Knights side in 1988, whilst playing for West in the local competition. He then retired from playing at the end of the 1988 season. He coached both junior and grade teams for West Rosellas in the mid-1990s. Geoff joined the Wests Board in 1992 and was awarded Life Membership of the West Group in 2003 for service to the Board.

Geoff holds a Bachelor of Education (Secondary)and a Diploma of Teaching in PDHPE. He retired from Lambton High School in 2019 having contributed 40 years of service with The NSW Department of Education.

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