During BrissyEel's latest suspension, I had the pleasure of having a decent Q & A chat to get a better idea of what drives him, why he had to leave the Eels for the Dolphins, and also the famous Bert incident. Bert if you're reading this please come back (grovelling on hands and knees).
If anyone has any questions, feel free to ask. I'm half hoping this turns out a half-civil conversation, though as we touch on JA and BA... If it gets too personal, or overboard, I probably will need to either close it or delete the blog. Apologies, in advance.
For privacy sake, some names of well-known Australian identities and specific locations have been removed.
Q. Hoe: Can you give a little background on your coaching experience, and point out are your biggest lessons in coaching juniors?
A. BrissyEel: I was always involved in footy during my youth, with my father being on the Committee at our local club in northern NSW for years as well as my uncles playing A Grade and some rep footy including 1 who played NSW Country. I’ve been involved with QLD-based juniors for about 8 years now since my son started, however, like many kids around here he’s gone away from League to play Basketball this year.
Originally I was just a spectator but soon did my League Safe course and ran water for the boys and for the last 3 or 4 years I have been involved in coaching with a good mate of mine. Due to travelling with work I can’t commit to full time coaching, so helping my mate out where I may miss a couple of trainings each month works out well.
Previous to that, I was also involved with a QLD-based Hockey Club for quite a few years and as well as playing I helped another good mate who coached the A Grade men’s team and I was the Manager for 5 years. This was a great experience as it is a pretty high level and we bought through several kids who made their way into Qld rep teams and one who made it into the Australian team and who now has over 200 caps for the Kookaburras.
Over that 5 years we had a good relationship with a QLD-based Australian representative who played for Australia, has been since inducted into the Queensland Sport Hall of Fame, and was a hugely successful coach for Qld Open men’s teams and luckily also had the pleasure of being involved in a couple of sessions with the Australian Men’s Coach at the time and is the current Indian Men’s Coach.
It was a good grounding into coaching being able to listen to these guys who were very successful at the highest level, albeit in a different sport.
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learnt (or I probably should stay am still learning) from coaching is man management, even with young men you need to treat some individuals far differently within the squad – sometimes it’s just as important to mollycoddle as it is to give someone a bit of a spray.
Learning what makes each player tick and using that to your advantage is a bit of an art.
I asked a coach that came up from Sydney and had a reasonably successful stint at my old club in northern NSW once, what it was that had him getting what was originally considered by many to be a mediocre squad firing and into semi finals footy. He told me that man management was the key, you can make someone run through a brick wall for you if you tell them what they want to hear.
Q. What gives you the most pleasure in coaching?
A. Simply giving back to the community and helping young players not only be better footy players (hopefully) each year, but also become better human beings.
My mate and I are very strong on respecting your team mates but at the same time equally respecting the opposition.
Your next big loss could be only a week away, so when you have a good win you celebrate respectfully and don’t go over the top, and when you have a loss you congratulate the opposition, hold your head up and move on, working harder during the week to be that little bit better.
Q. How has your coaching style changed over the years? And how has it changed you as a person?
A. I don’t think the style has changed too much from hockey to footy. Initially concentrating on the basics, repetition until it becomes 2nd nature and then progressing those skills to a new and higher level the longer the year goes on.
I don’t think there’s a coach on the planet that knows everything, so a mug coaching kids in Queensland certainly doesn’t!!!
So, I think learning yourself as you go and improving your own skill set as a coach and a mentor is very important. To this end the Dolphins are a great organisation. You have access to some other coaches that have been successful in their League careers as players as well as transitioning to coaches. I’ve also had access to one of the Warriors coaching staff running a few sessions for us which was a massive eye opener.
Also, I have a mate who is a current assistant coach for the Dolphins Qld Cup team. Going through Qld Cup video and analysing tackle techniques with the kids and then putting that into practice in defensive drills is super helpful. These guys give up their time to help you out and it’s super important for the kids to get exposure to that level of knowledge and hear a different voice from time to time.
As far as changing you as a person, it’s much like following the Eels on the weekends, highs and lows, but the fact you’re more invested in it probably amplifies the good feelings after a win and the bad after a loss – you really feel for the boys after a close loss and when they’ve put in their all and still not go the result.
Q. What do you think is the key to being a good coach?
A. Being open to learning and adapting your sessions accordingly. You can’t be a good coach if you’re not willing to learn something regularly, probably each and every week you should be taking something from the game and improving as a coach.
Work out what went well and not only repeat it but improve it if at all possible and definitely also analyse what went wrong and adapt and rectify.
Communication is also key.
Sometimes the best sessions are when you get the kids to analyse what they thing went right and wrong, tell you what they think they need to improve on for the next weeks game and then develop the session to work on the 1 or 2 aspects they’ve identified. That way you are getting them to really invest into the session because it’s what they’ve identified as a problem.
It’s very interesting doing the coaching course when they go over how the people that kids look up to changes with their ages – going from their parents initially and then onto their peers and their coaches.
It reinforces that anything positive you can do that will affect these kids growing from adolescents to adults is extremely important.
I can tell you it is pretty bloody satisfying and definitely worth the 2 nights a week training on cold winters nights and all the time and effort you put in, when you have a parent tell you how much they appreciate what you’ve done for their child and that they can see a change in their attitude to schoolwork, their family and life in general from being part of a footy team.
Q. What made you jump ship to support the Dolphins, on an emotional level, after supporting the Eels for so many decades? Was it just your involvement with the Dolphins and it being closer to home, or was there more to it?
A. I’ve explained this one a few times, but I’ll go over it again.
I never had any actual attachment to the Eels – never lived in the area or anything like that.
I was actually a Dragons fan as a young kid purely because of the colours being the same as my local footy team. I went to Sydney to stay with my aunty one school holidays in 1980 when I was in Year 6 and when asked did I want to see a footy game I of course wanted to see the Dragons. It just so happened they played the Eels and I assume it was at Cumberland Oval.
Without knowing any Eels players (I knew a heap of the Dragons from the old Scanlon’s bubble gum cards we all used to trade at school) a bloke called Ray Price turned me into an Eels fan that day.
He was incredible and I have the memory etched into my mind of him being no more than 15 or 20 metres away, face covered in blood and the trainer trying to get him off the field and Pricey telling him to piss off in no uncertain terms!!! I still remember thinking, damn, now that’s how you play footy. I have no doubt my switch of allegiance after that game against the Dragons in 1980 contributed to the Premiership successes of the next 6 years – no doubt!!!! I am not sure who on 1EE started supporting the Eels in 1987, but the hoodoo they bought has been too much for my good mojo to overcome.
When I moved to the Redcliffe area over 25 years ago they were already a very successful club and being a league nut I quickly fell into supporting them and gained a lot of new mates through that. I’ve been to several Grand Finals with wins and losses, watched the last 2 in a Corporate Box, I know sponsors, Committee members, players, coaches – just a heap of people previously and currently involved in the Club. I’ve spent far more $$$ on the Dolphins in 25 years than the Eels in over 40 years.
I’ve probably seen the Eels play in Brisbane maybe 10 times, I watch the Dolphins that many times in a year in Qld Cup.
Q. How will you feel about the Eels from next year when the Dolphins re-enter the competition? Would they be your number 2 or like an ex-partner you don't really want to see again?
A. No doubt I will still be keeping a very close eye on the Eels and wishing them well - you can’t just ditch 40+ years of support cold turkey – so as you suggest, as a 2nd team the Eels are obviously it.
That said, along with the vast majority of my mates up here, I will be throwing my support behind the Dolphins. It just makes sense on so many levels.
When you think about the expansion of the NRL any new clubs coming in are gong to need fans to make them viable. I have no doubt the Dolphins will quickly grow a pretty substantial fan base. But the majority of that fan base will be existing NRL fans, they simply aren’t going to get 20,000 new fans to rugby league as the sole Dolphin’s supporter base.
There’s no doubt when the Eels were admitted into the comp in 1947 (coincidentally also the same year the Dolphins were admitted to the Brisbane comp) that a huge portion of their initial supporter base transitioned from other clubs – Parramatta locals changing allegiances to support their new team.
The Dolphins have been working towards NRL admission for decades, they have made no secret of the fact they wanted in and have bided their time, put things into place financially, have a magnificent boutique stadium capable of holding around 10K to 11K and were the stand out bid in my humble opinion.
Q. What are your expectations of the Dolphins next year?
A. I don’t think anyone has massive expectations for them and I am no different. I think if they can finish in that 10-12th place and be scrapping for a spot in the very bottom of the Top 8 then it will be a successful debut season.
I expect them to take time to gel as a team and find their own style as well as their own identity. But when it comes they will be successful, a lot of people don’t like the Dolphins, and one reason for that is they just have winning in their DNA.
Even this year I think they lost 5 of their 1st 6 games in Qld Cup and people were questioning the new coach, the arrangement they have with the Warriors and pretty much anything and everything – they aren’t used to losing like that. But fast forward to the end of the season and with a solid win over Wynnum Manly on Sunday they leapfrogged them into the Top
They just know how to be competitive and how to win. Obviously this is going to be a far more difficult scenario in the NRL from Qld up, but if Bennett can tap into that Qld Cup DNA it will go a long way to getting them on the front foot.
Q. And how do you feel about Woolf taking over the Dolphins in the near future? Would you rather Arthur to him?
A. Like I’ve said before, he [Woolfe] has a great Super League record, but so does Nathan Brown.
I think the way the Dolphins are doing it is the impressive bit. Having 2 years doing an apprenticeship under Wayne, getting to know the NRL inside and out from someone who’s been there and done that is absolutely the way to go. I think he’ll also be able to use that time to identify and reinforce that Dolphins DNA and use that to his advantage.
Hard to say whether I’d rather BA over him at the Dolphins because he’s just an unknown quantity in the NRL.
That said, if BA was to be the one doing the next 2 years under Wayne and then taking over for 3 years I would have no issue with that at all. Clearly he’s a good coach despite the thoughts of some on 1EE.
Woolf has the runs on the board in Super League, will do 2 years under one of the best the game has seen and will inherit a squad that by then will have a pretty decent junior base just starting to come through nicely into NRL calculations as well as a Qld Cup team that has been one of, if not the, most successful in the State at his disposal. He will have everything he needs to be successful, so it’s up to him.
Q. Who do you rate as the best coaches in the NRL?
A. Records wise currently it’s obviously Bellamy, Robinson and Bennett.
That said, I still would love to see how the Eels would go under Bellamy or Robinson or how BA would go with those star studded rosters they have had access to over the years.
I also don’t like the negative impact Bellamy has had on the game introducing the wrestle and many now illegal tackling techniques.
For everything he’s done to improve the skills of his players and thinking outside the box to make them a better team, he’s done just as much damage to the game.
If the Cowboys can continue their trajectory then Payton must start coming into contention as the heir apparent, but he’s got a way to go just yet.
Q. What would you change if you were Brad Arthur? Would you continue to select Jakob Arthur on the bench after Moses returns?
A. It’s hard to say from the outside looking in because we simply don’t know what happens at training sessions and behind closed doors.
We don’t know what input the coaching assistants have, how much notice BA takes of any suggestions, or if there even are suggestions being made to him. I think if anything, there seems to be some inflexibility to change things up.
It was interesting listening to an interview a few weeks ago with Api Koroisau, when asked a particular question about coming back from Origin and he said how the “coaching staff” changed things up, gave them new drills and freshened the squad.
I think the fact he said “coaching staff” was a crucial indicator of why the Panthers are going through such a strong period at the moment - imagining a similar situation I can only imagine the majority (if not all) of Eels players would respond with “BA did…..”. I think the onus from the players is on the one man in BA and that to me could potentially be his Achilles heel.
So, to that end I think BA needs to get some fresh blood in the assistants ranks with a decent level of autonomy and actually let them take the reins in a few session each week, step back, look, listen and learn.
Like I said in a previous question, I think one of the most important things for a good coach is to be continually learning yourself and be able to adapt.
It’s only an opinion of a mug kids coach in Qld and I could be way off, but if it isn’t happening then that’s one thing I think could prolong BA’s Eels career and also potentially help get that consistency we are so lacking in.
As for JA on the bench when Moses comes back, no, I’ve been pretty vocal about wanting Perham to get a shot at the 14.
I understand if Carty gets it, but Perham is a decent way above JA in my pecking order on the bench.
Q. There were accusations you had private access to private messages, a ha ck er, or even in cohorts with Super to increase site traffic. What do you say about these accusations?
A. At first I was incredulous, after that I was pretty angry with some of the responses I couldn’t respond to [was suspended at the time] and now I’m still a little perplexed but understand it was nothing more than the late night *beeps” of a *beep* man of a *beep* man (sorry, Bert!!!).
My comment was very clear and concise – Bert had a go at me so I told him that he’d be better off understanding 1EE was a footy forum and that 99% of the content he posted was not footy related and would be better off done between him and his mates on Whatsapp.
I could have easily said Facebook, Messenger or whatever other apps there are out there to do that sort of thing. I don’t Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or any of that social media shit, but I do use Whatsapp regularly to send messages and info to my mates and even some customers of mine.
It’s off the deep end with some crazy conspiracy theory that was total *beep*.
At the end of the day, I don’t think I know a single person on 1EE, certainly not Super and to be honest I’ve sent him a couple of nasty emails in relation to *beep* that’s happened [suspension] – haven’t even had a single reply so he’s certainly not in my social circle!!!
I see Bert posting all the time about his personal life. I have zero interest in it and certainly don’t have any need or desire to immerse myself reading his PM’s on Whatsapp or any other platform – did he use ANOM as well???
I sincerely hope Bert comes back to 1EE, we don’t see eye to eye on everything and have had some tremendous blues, but we’ve also had some common ground on quite a few subjects and when he is talking sense I have no problem discussing issues with him.
Q. Putting all that aside, would you have any IT tips (evil laugh) and security advice?
A. Haha, nope, none.
Maybe get a job like me where your US owned employer has strict controls over your computer and devices, excellent security and you’re required to do regular on-line training on scams, phishing and all that sort of stuff.
Other than that, stay off whatever Bert may have been on and don’t jump to conclusions in the middle of the night!!!!!!
Q. You were suspended while Jakob Arthur played a decent enough R21 game versus Manly to put some humble pie on his critics - me included - what were your thoughts at the time, and things you would have liked to share with your 1EE brethren?
A. Funnily enough exactly what I asked for happened.
JA just did his job, limited his mistakes, the senior players took ownership of their roles and played brilliant footy and we got a crucial win in pretty impressive fashion.
Because of the senior players playing to their capabilities for pretty much 80 minutes (which was impressive in itself) JA was able to ease himself into the game and as he got more comfortable he produced some nice touches and a couple of crucial try assists.
Simple fact is there’s some handy footy players in our team, even without Moses.
They’ve showed glimpses of just what they can do throughout the year and I think the Manly game was probably the best all-round 80 minute effort this season.
Trouble is, will they continue in that vein or will the bad old Tigers/Dogs version of the Eels show up against the Rabbits? By the time this is posted we’ll know the answer I guess - unless I get a reprieve from Super on Friday!!!! [didn't happen]
[However, we all know what happened the following Friday night, round 22, against Souths. JA went to the JA most of us expected when he tried to take more control over the team].