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2008...the potential ahead. - Australian Rugby league News
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globalrugbyleague - Mon, 31 Dec 2007 10:01:00 GMT
Every true footy fan believes their club is the pride of the league. That's before the season officially kicks off and the reality of competitive sport eventually wears you down like an Andre the Giant bear hug.

Then and only then your beliefs and your faith are put to the test. But surely there are some clues as to how one's team will perform when the new guys runs out onto the paddock, the pressure is on and the footy tips are in.

Coaches make many demands of the 13-players that make up the starting line-up and the four others being blooded off the bench. Unarguably though the most important one I believe is a simple but vital football commandment.

Train longer and smarter? That would be helpful and practically very useful in developing better fitness levels for the gaps that will inevitably appear on the field during the forthcoming season. But no, that's not what I'm referring to.

Stop drinking alcohol for the whole season? That could win the club a soft-drink sponsorship perhaps and grab some good headlines in the media and maybe even win over a few new fans. Still not what I'm referring to though.

Whether you're a young gun rookie coming through like fast-paced Roosters utility Ben Jones or the most skillful halfback in the game, Jonathan Thurston, if you want to make it a good year then you'd better make sure you play to your full potential.

That however is a double responsibility of both the coach and the individual. A team must have sensible strategies put in place by the coach and his assistants while the players must endorse those strategies through some fair dinkum application.

Potential can only be reached if the athletic support for footballers is balanced with programs which work on lifestyle discipline so that clubs churn out great human beings as well as footballers.

As the great Jack Gibson proved at Parramatta during his three-year tenure as head coach, the ground rules for success aren't limited to the football field. That was made obvious by the harmony of the Eels teams which won 3 straight premierships from 1981-83.

"The responsibility of the coach goes past the football paddock. How his players conduct themselves when not under supervision is the yardstick", wrote Gibson in his 2003 publication, The Last Word.

That also might explain why Gibson's modern day equivalent, Broncos coach, Wayne Bennett (a long-time fan of the great man), also won back to back titles before eventually surpassing Gibson's premiership tally in 2006. Both subscribed to similiar ethos.

Which teams really have the potential to set themselves up for a crack at historical sporting immortality?

Last week I discovered three drawn numbers on the auto pick ticket I purchased for the $30 million lotto draw and in my heart I believe only 3 NRL teams can take out the title this season. However I'm also a believer in dark horses and that's why I'll throw in two supplementary teams who might be able to cause some anxst for rival coaches.

That's not to say winning a title is the only way a team can exhibit a good season. There will be plenty of rainforests that will need to be cut down to supply the paper that will be used by the print media to acknowledge

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