My unrelenting passion and love of coaching has afforded me so many unforgettable experiences, opportunities, and memories. And, I am eternally grateful to every person who has assisted me along the way to get to where I have always wanted to be: an NRL Head Coach. I am determined to pass this expertise on. One of my biggest career (and life) realisations is that sport and business, though appearing as different sectors, are constantly interlaced. My last 30 years in the sporting industry have provided me with a critical understanding of how to get professional individuals and teams from where they are to where they want and need to be. Here’s how:
My lifelong goal has always been to coach. And, over the last 30 years, I have achieved that dream.
I began in my hometown of Rockhampton in country rugby league. I then moved into the semi-professional level (at the time) of the Queensland Cup in Brisbane where I met my wife, Helen. My NRL journey began with the Melbourne Storm as a pathways coach and then my first senior role as an NRL assistant coach - this experience was invaluable from both a coaching and life experience. Though, the exhilaration of reaching the professional level for the first time was extinguished 2 years later after losing my job and returning to Brisbane with my young family.
My next opportunity was coaching the last placed Queensland Cup team, Souths Logan, in the mid-2000s. My success here led to me applying and being awarded with the head coaching job at the Redcliffe Dolphins, a powerful top of the ladder club. There was plenty of triumph here with a premiership and grand final appearance over the following 3 years.
Queensland Cup coaching roles were part-time at best in the early/mid 2000s. So, to secure my income and help provide for my family, I bought a client base from Suncorp who were deregulating their insurance and financial planning department. I had worked in the industry in Rockhampton but had to frantically reaccredit myself to qualify as a business owner at the time. This meant squeezing 6 months of external study into 3 which (thankfully) I achieved. I went on to reacquaint myself with the corporate world during the day and continued to pursue my coaching ambitions at night with the Redcliffe Dolphins QLD Cup team.
This period of my career afforded me with invaluable learnings on the importance of relationships when dealing with clients and large companies to grow a business. It also taught me valuable lessons in the synergies between sporting and business teams.
My big break in the NRL came when I was invited to join the Brisbane Broncos when landed the role as the clubs Under 20s coach and pathways manager. I gradually transitioned out of business, and I was back in the NRL system as a full-time coach. After 2 years of success with the Under 20s team, I was promoted into the NRL team as an assistant coach. My lifetime dream came true when I was appointed as the Head Coach of the Broncos in 2011.
During my time at the Broncos, I again found myself dealing with business world. The club had a huge corporate sponsorship following - being the only team in Brisbane at the time. This meant that I was required, as the Head Coach, to attend and speak at lunches, dinners, and conferences on a regular basis. I also found myself speaking to staff of various different companies and industries about the importance of teamwork and behavioural change. A couple of these company execs and leaders began to bring me in on a regular basis to coach and mentor their own management teams.
My next move was to Sydney in 2016 as the Head Coach of the Penrith Panthers. Again, I was exposed to regular interactions with business owners and the challenges in building and managing their teams.
So, after finishing with the Panthers in 2018, I made the decision to use all my experiences as a coach and really test myself in the business world. I started my own company (with a great deal of anxiety I might add) and took on the challenge of applying myself as a coach and mentor in the world outside of rugby league. It was a tremendous period of self-development and learning as I gradually built a client base. These included 5-star hotel chains, mining companies in remote areas, state and federal government departments and small businesses. I gained experience by speaking to corporate sponsors at intimate boardroom breakfasts and eventually began to host my own. I was also engaged by clubs and schools in rugby league and other sporting codes to review their operations, help coach their coaches and, at times, act as a specialist coach with their teams. During this period, I wrote weekly columns for the Sydney Daily Telegraph and provided commentary on NRL games with Fox Sports and 2GB Radio.
In 2019, I was fortunate to be part of the coaching staff of the Tongan Rugby League team. We had played a tri series against Australia and England and for the first time in their history Tonga recorded victories against both powerhouse countries. As a result of this the entire team was flown to Tonga for a royal reception with the King of Tonga. An experience I will never forget.
In 2021, the opportunity to return to the NRL as a Head Coach came at the St George Illawarra Dragons. That role finished in May of this year, and I have returned to commentary with Fox and 2GB.
I have a passion for coaching and will continue to learn and grow in this profession. I am extremely fortunate to have been given the opportunities and the experience I have gained both in the sports, business, and media worlds. I know I can help leaders and teams in any industry regardless of the size or type of business. This is what I enjoy doing and it allows me, as a coach, to continue to develop and learn on a professional and personal level. It is all part of the journey of coaching.
Feel free to get in contact via the below email address to further discuss the services I can provide to you and/or your corporate team.