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Coaching The Coaches - Australian Rugby league News
globalrugbyleague - Mon, 09 Jul 2007 10:57:00 GMT
This is the game Eels fans have been waiting for. And the GRL Phantom thinks the Knights and Brian Smith have been too.

This Monday it's the first time Michael Hagan (Eels) and Brian Smith (Knights) have clashed as coaches since they left their former clubs.

It's well documented the two coaches were told by club management that their contracts wouldn't be renewed.

Hagan then signed with the Eels after Smith was told his services were to be ceased at the end of the 2006 season.

However, after nine rounds of the 2006 season he vacated the chair and Jason Taylor stepped in.

Both men coach differently and their approaches often suit the time and circumstances of the club where they have been employed.

In fact their coaching styles are like chalk and cheese.

Smith – who is the high priest of rugby league technique - loves to ``school'' his players in the skills, tactics, structures and disciplines of the game.

As a former school teacher, Smith likes to mentor this way.

He is a great believer in ``homework'', for his players, they are drilled in their plays and where they have to be in attack and defense on certain parts of the field.

Look at the Knights this year.

They play from the middle of the field and ``blur'' the short sides in attack, more prevalently than any other team in the game.

The forwards and halves use short, snappy passes to carve open space in defense.

Smith has shaken up the Knights a lot this year - telling nine players they will be gone at season's end while also embarking on signing new recruits for next year.

The Knights needed to make changes.

Michael Hagan spent six years at the Knights and coached the team to a premiership-win in 2001 - ironically against Brian Smith when he was at Parramatta in the grand final.

Hagan's relaxed, consultative, open, at times laid-back style suits Parramatta - after the intense, military-like operation Smith ran for 10 years at the Eels.

Parramatta has played with freedom, maturity, stability and flair this year.

Hagan is a great believer in letting players attack freely when space and the situation permits.

However, he can also make the tough calls and has given the Eels, a balance between structure and freedom of expression which suits his team.
The GRL Phantom has prepared a very different tactical assessment this game.

No mention of certain plays or how the players might play.

But I think the coaches hold the key on how they keep their players, relaxed, prepared and ready to play on Monday at Parramatta Stadium at 7pm.

One thing the GRL Phantom is hoping for is that the coaches don't give the pre-game talks inside the wrong dressing room.

Eels by seven. - Read More, Here