Thinking outside the Box: Smith

By Daniel Andruczyk

Last week was a week of turmoil at the Sydney Roosters. Their coach, Brian Smith was given the boot after another dismal season by the Chooks. The players at the Roosters found out about the sacking through a text message and looks like former player Trent Robinson will come in as the new coach. Robinson is at Catalans and has done a great job there to get the team into the top 4 of the Super League. But the question now remains, what will happen to Smith? What will Brian do now? There is some talk of him going to the Warriors but how about some out of the box thinking for Brian?

So, I am not here to write about the reasons why Smith was sacked, simply because I have no idea in reality of what went on there. But to have someone of Smiths skill out there, un used could be used in a great positive way. Coaches don;t fall under the salary cap and tend to get paid the big pucks for getting the best out of the team. It was reported that Smith’s contract was worth $4 million, so hopefully he put some of that away and can use it well to do something constructive for INTERNATIONAL Rugby League.

So how about this for an idea. Why not look to becoming a full time National Rugby League coach for a developing nation or even nations? Now I realise that the World Cup is next year and all the qualified countries have their coaches already set in stone. But why doesn’t Smith look to really take one of the minnow nations under his wing, look at their domestic players and put them through their rigours. It’s going back to the basics for him, but if you look at recent photos of Smith I think he has lost some of that passion for the sport, this could get it back for him.

Smith, could take, lets say the Czech’s as an example, and look to work with them to qualify for the 2017 World Cup. He could live there for the duration of the domestic comp, which is during summer there and is absolutely spectacular, plus is a cheap country to live in. Yes, Smith would not be paid to start with, it would be all of his own back, but he could have a real influence maybe into the structure of the game and how to get sponsors and money come in, maybe eventually have things semi-pro there where he, admin and players do get paid something?

This could apply to any nation in reality however. How about one of the Pacific Island nations, Imagine if he can coach Fiji or PNG to a world Cup final, or should I dare say it a win? It may be a pipe dream and everyone says I am mad for suggesting it, but its thinking out of the box. Maybe it can be seen for Smith a holiday, a break, from the rigours of the NRL, get maybe some of that love an passion for the game back.

It would be a great “experiment” to see what a full time, top coach, can really do for a small developing nation if he were able to spend time with the players and help develop the sport in that country.


From Phil Caplan

Warrington Wolves’ Youth Development team will enter into a formal partnership with Rugby League Deutschland (RLD) following a successful visit to the Heidelberg region by John Bastian.

Rugby League Deutschland Development Manager Uwe Jansen was delighted with the start of what promises to be a highly valuable relationship for the sport in Germany.

“I want to thank John and the Warrington Wolves for giving us the opportunity to present ourselves,” Jansen said.

“It was one of the best experiences German Rugby League has had. I am certain we will all profit from this partnership, especially the support for our youth development which is the key to long term success for the game here.

“We’ve installed a four year development plan for our boys, those born from 1996-1999.These players are the base of the first generation of Germany’s purely Rugby League playing seniors of the future.”

Jansen is leading on the registration of Rugby League departments in local omni-sports clubs and the establishment of a youth league which will commence in September with under-16 and under-18 sides and will see a significant increase in participation and activity.

“Rugby League in general must embrace the progress of the sport within Europe,” said Wolves Director of Youth Development Bastian, “and I would encourage other Super League clubs to create and develop partnerships that can help the progress of the game.

“On behalf of the club I would like to thank the Rugby League European Federation for giving us this marvellous opportunity.”

His four-day trip gave him an insight into the culture, environment and German way of life and to gain an understanding of the stage of development Rugby League in Germany is at.

The areas of ongoing support will include: educating the coaches, providing tactical and technical knowledge, developing skills, supporting strength and conditioning and backing the junior development and community game.

Bastian added: “The German people are very enthusiastic about creating sporting opportunities linked alongside strong family values and good education for their children.

“I found them and the youngsters to be very disciplined and very respectful in how they conducted themselves throughout my stay.

“They were very pro-active and, under the guidance of Uwe, are working hard to develop and progress Rugby League within the German sporting culture.

“We at Warrington Wolves will look to help progress and educate Uwe and his team of coaches alongside the young players who show so much enthusiasm in wanting to improve their knowledge and understanding of the sport.

Bastian continued, “I must also mention that Serbia, who were involved in a two-game under-16s international series against Germany, were also a credit in how they conducted themselves throughout the festival.”

RLEF General Manager Danny Kazandjian is keen to see the partnership evolve into something substantial over the coming years.

“Warrington has always been an enthusiastic supporter of developing the international game and we are really grateful for John’s involvement,” he commented.

“Last year the Wolves hosted two players from Saudi schools, and we felt the club was the perfect partner for a more extensive collaboration with RLD, considering their focus on long-term youth development.

“Every level of the game in Germany will benefit from this relationship and our first focus will be on ensuring that RLD establishes a structure that will ensure more German Rugby League players are participating more often than ever before. That’s the priority. Further to that, Germany’s coaching personnel will benefit from the expertise of John and his colleagues.”


Daniel Andruczyk’s email:
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22 Responses to “Thinking outside the Box: Smith”

  1. deluded pom? says:

    I like the Brian Smith suggestion dru but I can’t see it eventuating any time soon. Great to see the Warrington Wolves link up with the Germans. Hull with Canada and now this. This is the kind of thing we need more of. I hope a top SLE team can link up with the Serbians soon as I feel they are making all the right noises in their development of RL over there.

    • druzik says:

      I agree it probably won’t eventuate any time soon … but I think its an idea to put out there… It was on my mind and I figured I’d put it out there.

      You know… there are a whole tone of ESL and Championship clubs that do have links to various nations through Europe… I think I will compile a list of these.

  2. dragons4eva says:

    Not a bad idea Druzik, but i think its sort of been done already hasn’t it?

    I mean like Matt Elliot was the Panthers coach and is now the full time Tomahawks coach. Plus there’s been numerous times when i’ve seen English coaches helping nations such as Russia, Canada, Ukraine etc.

    I can understand your viewpoint and who knows…maybe Brian Smith could do a great job like that! However i think he’ll either go to another NRL or overseas pro club i’m afraid.

    • druzik says:

      Elliot is not the full time coach, he is not living in the USA, going to all the matches to see players. he is still at the NRL. Yes there are many coaches in England and Australia that are involved in a part time capacity.

      But what I mean with Smith is that he moves wholesale to a country and works from the ground up in the country to get the game and national team up and going.

  3. Shaun says:

    If every nation could have even just 1 full time employee of the RLIF/RLEF (not on a massive wage, just average) then the development that could be done would be mind blowing. To be able to commit full time to sponsorship proposals, relationship management, development, etc… So then the game and international matches can pay for itself (as we have both mentioned before Dru).

    I like your Brian Smith idea, because he could do the above mentioned without being paid (and use his savings).

    It would be cool to calculate the total amount it would cost to have a full time paid development officer in every country with a 4 team comp at the moment, paid the average wage of that country.

    • druzik says:

      Well the RLEF does have development officers for regions, rather than individual countries. You have Jovan Vujesevic for Eastern Europe, Andy Mulhall and Uwe Jansen handling Central Europe and Germany, Warren Helig for Scandinavia and Anthony Micaleff through Malta… trying to remember who the MENA guy is…

      But yes they get paid a bit, not sure its a full wage, but it is a start, and its something that the RLIF has to look into at some point I feel.

      • Shaun says:

        Yes i understand these regional development officers, and they really don’t have the time to put in the required effort for every nation they look after.
        But if the RLIF paid for one officer in every nation who has a 4 team comp, from the WC profits, then these guys can source income and would no longer be reliant on a wage from the RLIF. It would be a contracted period, say 24 months.
        Then they would have to survive off new income streams.
        They would of course have to report all dealings with the regional development officers (the ones above mentioned by yourself), who would in turn report to the RLEF/RLIF.
        If you had 2 years of full time employment to source sponsors, government funds/grants, media and broadcasting etc., i mean its all more realistic to have nations reaching the next level. Particularly when you look at countries like Canada, Ukraine, Norway that aren’t too far off.

      • druzik says:

        Well I guess the other question that needs to be asked is how much of a role is it for the RLEF/RLIF development officers to be there for every nations. They are there to help guide and provide assistance where necessary and where they can, but isn’t it better to have every nation try and develop things on their own so that they are not wholey reliant on organisations like the RLEF/RLIF to continually prop them up?

        I know with my own experience with Poland, we have had assistance from the RLEF, but its important we get tings done on our own way and terms and show that we can survive on our own. One we do that then we can start looking at a greater integration into the RLEF.

  4. Shaun says:

    Yes I agree, but all im saying is if the rlif could fund an office for each established nation ( 4 team domestic com) for a 12 or 24 month period it would speed up the process of development that could be achieved if ppl didn’t have to work full time jobs and develop rugby league. You can be sure as hell that other sports do. As with poland it is up to u guys to get things edtablished, but then once a 4 team comp is running, for a full time employee to source sponsorship, grants, media, broadcasting, marketing, game day events planning ansd internationals, things would be much better. Then once these best practiced are established, it would no longer be a full time job, or if enough revenue streams are created it would be up to the nation to decide if thats how they want to spend the money.

  5. Shaun says:

    Yep lets see how much profit the world cup makes

  6. Shaun says:

    The rlif has bugger all other income streams, so im putting all of rugby leagues eggs in one basket…

  7. Shaun says:

    Agreed. Any proposals? Particularly if the four nations and euro cup isn’t the rlif’s? Or do they claim ownership?

  8. Shaun says:

    Does the white paper have an executive summary?

  9. Shaun says:

    Not a bad read.
    Personally, for the time being I wouldn’t change too much.
    With a euro cup, shield and bowl w ith promotion and relegation, and an asia/ pacific cup, and now its time for a second tier tournament – asia/pacific shield. And also atlantic cup. I think if these can be played every year, with the rlif getting a cut and hopefully the rlif developing its own folio of sponsors, income should be generated to add to the world cup profits.

    • druzik says:

      I think every year is an over-kill. It takes away prestige of a tournament. There is actually a good mix of tournaments now, but should be used in a better manner I feel. You can use the shield and bowl etc as qualifying tournaments for the cup.

      with a bit of smart thinking and planning, it really can be done in a good proper way.

      The WP is a guide, as I come up with different and better improivements to it it can change slightly, but the base, the guts of it is there.

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