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When you’re sitting a season out as a coach you look at different clubs and think which one might suit you. I just felt that when the opportunity came around at the Tigers it was a really good fit for me to get back in. I’d been looking for something like this and suddenly it opened up.


It’s a club that has really solid foundations, with strong management off the field and great potential on it. My job around that as a coach is to build it up to be a successful club and winning grand finals.


The club’s youth will be a big part of us moving forward. The junior scope Wests Tigers have is enormous. Working on creating pathways is something I’ve really enjoyed in the past.


I’ve been able to bring through a number of promising young players at my previous clubs, so I’m looking forward to bringing through the next generation of Wests Tigers kids from the local competitions.


I don’t come with a style and force it upon a team no matter what their playing roster looks like. I coached Wigan one way and South Sydney another way. This year I came at it from another angle with the New Zealand team.


The aim will be to bring the community along as well. If you can get the supporters to come on the ride with you it plays a big part in the club achieving success.


People talk about a new coach arriving at a club and it not being ‘his’ squad and that he’ll re-shape it over time. Well, that’s not how I see it. I’m here now, so this squad is my squad and if we all work really hard together then we’ll achieve something – together.


I consider myself to be in a privileged position as Wests Tigers coach. The expectation people have of me is that I should be able to take this squad forward. I have no problem with that. It’s my expectation as well. If I didn’t like the make-up of the squad I wouldn’t be here.





Before flying home I attended a leadership conference in London and spent time with a fantastic group of coaches and leaders that included Arsene Wenger and Sir David Brailsford.


It was conducted by an organisation called Leaders and it was the second time I’d been invited. The first was in 2015.


I thought it was a great opportunity at the back end of the tour. It was a two-day conference and I came in on the second day. There were 17 of us in a room and we went through a whole range of topics related to coaching and leadership. People’s philosophies and experiences.


Arsene spent what seemed like a lifetime as coach of Arsenal and Sir David runs the Team Sky cycling team. You can’t help but learn even in general conversation with people like them about what it takes to lead a group to major success.


How strong a personality you have to be and how much belief you must have in your methods.


I’d been in Arsene’s company before. He’s a great fellow. He has enormous experience and his philosophies around success and winning are very convincing, so it’s great to talk to people like that.



I was also fortunate enough to spend some time with the Liverpool coach, Jurgen Klopp, on this trip. We talked for half-an-hour about coaching, maintaining relationships with players, that sort of thing. Again, you’re always going to learn something.


We spent a day training at Liverpool and the Kiwi players got to connect with all of the Liverpool players and their coaching staff.


Jurgen’s in charge of one of the biggest football clubs in the world and he was happy to sit and talk about his coaching life and experiences.


The great thing is that it was my first year in charge of the Kiwis and I could see the team building. We had a big win in the third Test and that was very satisfying. I knew the boys had that performance inside them.


The way they applied themselves despite the fact they were two-nil down in a three-Test series was a real credit to the team leaders and everyone else in the side. They turned things around in that game and we can now build on that.


I think international footy is really alive. I’ve spent the last six months around the Kiwi team, starting with the mid-season Test against England in Denver, and the pride they have in playing for the jersey is palpable.


They play for their country, their family and the people in their communities who support them and they really want to take the jersey to the top. There’s a lot of work to do between now and the next Test we’ll play, but I feel we’re in a good place.


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