It’s Time To Go To Work: Seibold
This article first appeared on themorningbulletin.com.au.
Anthony Seibold addressed the playing group on Thursday, his key message that when they all returned for pre-season on November 1 they knew it was "time to go to work”.
He said his first priority was to get his head around what's required as head coach - "the areas that we need to maintain and the areas that we need to improve”.
One of Seibold's greatest strengths is developing young players and he has a wealth of rising talent to work with at Souths, with the likes of Cameron Murray and Angus Crichton.
Nine players 21 or younger played in the NRL this year and Seibold says a priority is ensuring they understand the consistency required at NRL level.
"I have an athlete-centred philosophy to my coaching,” he says when asked to describe his style.
"I ask a lot of questions, ask and give feedback, use games for understanding. I'm very big on development and education.
"I think relationships are key in any sort of industry and any sort of leadership role.
"They might be NRL players but they're people first and players second so building strong relationships with the players and the other staff is a really big part of my coaching.”
Seibold said a 12th placed finish for Souths was disappointing, and the loss of captain Greg Inglis in game one was a big blow the team struggled to recover from.
"It was a challenging year for a lot of reasons but the positive is that we exposed a whole heap of young players to the NRL,” he said.
"Big Sam Burgess was outstanding again for us, we add Dane Gagai to the group and getting Greg Inglis back on the park is going to be a big addition for us as well so there's plenty to be optimistic about.”
To take the position at one of the biggest Membership-based clubs adds another dimension to the role.
"It's a big club and it means a lot to the community, not just in Redfern but in the south of Sydney, and I'm taking that responsibility very seriously,” he said.
"I've got this opportunity because I've worked hard and been very focused on what I need to do and what I need to do to get better.
"That can't change because I'm the head coach. I need to continue to work hard and be really focused on what my job is and I need to continue to want to get better because that's how people grow.”
Seibold said he was not setting goals for the next two seasons.
"There's no point saying we want to be a top four team or a top eight team. For me, it's about working really hard day to day and when you work really hard day to day that means you're working really hard week go week.
"We all know that we finished 12th this year and we all know that we have ambitions to finish up the table.
"Like every team in the competition, we want to be in the finals but we need to work hard.
"This is what I do know - you get what you deserve and sometimes luck may play a part in it, injuries and decisions and whatever else, but you need to make sure you give yourself the best chance and you do that through your preparation.
"That's all I want to talk about and that's all I want to focus on.
"I want to prepare really well and the results will come off the back of that.”
Seibold's coaching ambition emerged in his late teens when he was being coached by the master, Wayne Bennett, at the Broncos and his first coaching gig - at the Celtic Crusaders in Wales in 2006 - really whet his appetite for the job.
He had set a time frame for success - and that was age 45.
"I was hoping that the opportunity may come earlier but I thought: 'I want to give this everything I've got until I'm 45 and if I'm not in the position to be a head coach then I might reconsider what I do next',” he said.
"I'm 42 now. I've been given the opportunity for the next two years and I do really want to enjoy the whole experience.
"It's not something that many people are afforded the opportunity to do so I'm really grateful for it.
"I want to look back in 10 or 15 years when I'm talking to my grandkids and really appreciate the opportunity I've been given.
"It's up to me now how I handle the role and I need to make sure that I keep really focused and continue to work hard because that's what got me to this position.”
Seibold harks back to a piece of advice that Craig Bellamy shared with him during his time at the Melbourne Storm.
"It was a saying from Pat Riley, a professional basketball coach, which was 'Keep the main thing the main thing'.
"For me that main thing is coaching the players.
"The danger from what I perceive for a head coach is trying to control everything in the club from the commercial department to the marketing.
"My main thing is coaching the team, preparing the team as best I can and I really want to keep the main thing the main thing.”