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Shaun McRae discusses Souths start to season 2006 - Australian Rugby league News
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globalrugbyleague - Sat, 18 Mar 2006 19:17:00 GMT
South Sydney and St-George-Illawarra will have
plenty in common when they battle each other in Round 3 of the National Rugby League. Both will be looking for their first win of
the season. One man who will be hoping for Charity Shield dejavu all over again
is Souths coach, Shaun McRae, writes JOSH KING.

JK: Souths had the bye last weekend. Was there a team or a player
from round 2 that impressed you?

SM: Ohhh..I think the Melbourne Storm are playing
exceptionally well. They've won both their games. And I guess you've got to
give credence to all the unbeaten sides at this stage. The panthers
have done very well. The Newcastle
Knights. There's a form reversal although they finished the season very well in
2005 (laugh). The Cowboys, they've been in scintillating form, their pre-season
form was outstanding and they've continued that on, so it's just indicating
again that it's going to be another very tough competition to pick and one that
as each round goes by, you really do earn your victories.

JK: There's a lot of teams that were labeled as
pre-season favourites who are currently underperforming. Are you glad that the
Rabbitohs don't have the title of favourites?

SM: Well look, I always see pre-season form as never a
great guide. Sides experiment, you often use big squads, sometimes you get
caught out in your first couple of rounds because of that and you actually come
back to the 17-man game when you've been using twenty, twenty-one, twenty two
players in your early season games and you haven't really given your 17 enough
football, so it does take a little while to settle in. As I said, i'm not a
great believer in pre-season form. The only thing it does do is give you a
little bit of confidence to start the competition. I never expected for one moment
for South Sydney to be favourites to win a
competition and our pre-season form was patchy. We played well in the charity
shield, we were terrible up in Mackay against a very good North Queensland side
and I thought we played well for fifty minutes against the Roosters in the
first game and things just sought of fell apart unfortunately in the match and
we got ran over. The bye over the weekend has helped us recover from that a
little bit, physically and emotionally, so we're ready to go for round 3.

JK: Two weeks ago, Souths only gave away five
penalties in their game against the Roosters. And that made your side one of
the most disciplined teams in round 1. What have you had to work on to instill
that discipline into the team?

SM: I don't know, sometimes I worry about being
well-disciplined. It might mean your not taking the law to the endth degree
(laugh). I'm not too sure if that's good or bad. But look I like to think we
are a disciplined side, we do work very hard at doing the things well and I think
you've got to be disciplined with yourself and disciplined with the officials.
I don't think it's anything special, you've just got to realise that when you
do give a lot of penalties away, you're on the backfoot. Most penalties are
given away when you're defending and that's just like a domino effect in many
respects. You're just under pressure all the time, so I think you've got to be
conscious not to give too many penalties away and work hard on completing your
sets.

JK: Yesterday, we saw the YES vote get up at
the AGM. Ben Walker had his say. Was their a process of the players talking to
you before they went public with their opinions?

SM: Not really. There wasn't a process of talking to me. I
was comfortable with what Ben put in and Ben (Walker) represented the players and I suppose
the coaching staff in echoing thoughts there. I don't know what influence it
had on people who voted there. It may have been the difference, I'm not sure.
That came from the heart and I think it's easy to say that there's not one
player or member of the coaching staff that didn't want this proposal to go
forward, {and} for a number of different reasons, one of
which involved our facilities which we train in at the moment.
They're not absolutely disgraceful but for an NRL team, for a professional
Rugby League team, there's no way that they fit the standard that you should
have.

JK: As the coach, were you worried that
if the 'NO' vote got up yesterday, that that might have had a bit of a
destabilising effect on the team?

SM: No, I wasn't. I think you can't address things until
they happen. And to be honest with you, I never really thought about if it goes
through or if it doesn't go through. Obviously we care about the club and we
care about what happens to the club. This was the only proposal to be put
forward for change and I didn't know if it did go through or if it didn't go
through. So my reaction now that it has gone through is that I didn't even
think much about if it didn't go through. I suspect there would have been a lot
more faction fighting and headlines that aren’t necessarily hreflective of the
game on the field, the eighty minutes you play on the field. So, everybody
should now fall in line and head in the same direction and I hope that's what
does happen.

JK: Attracting players to the club after
June 30, do you think that will be easier to do now?

SM: I'd like to hope so. Obviously, both guys are extremely
high-profile with some contacts in the business world and some great ideas on
how to market the club. I don't know what effect that will have when it comes
to signing players. I don't think it can hurt. I do see it as an advantage but
I don't think a players' going to sign with the club just because Russell Crowe
and Peter Holmes A Court
will sit down and speak to them. I think he's got to look at the overall
package, look at the big picture, however that may be a swaying thought process
and it might be the reason why they do sign because of people of that
magnitude and that nature were willing to sit down and talk to them as well.

JK: The Dragons play you next weekend with two losses on the trot.
What are you expecting from them on game day?

SM: Well, a wounded animal either lays down and dies or
they fight and they fight like hell to escape and live to fight another day and
lick their wounds and I think that's what's happening with St George.
They're certainly not a club that's used to lying down, they've got plenty of
players, they've got class right through their roster, so we expect them to
come out and play well on Sunday. We're coming off a loss and of course
the bye, we need to come out and play well also to
give {ourselves} a chance of winning, so I expect it's going to
be one of those ding-dong battles that occur between two traditional and
historical sides that are hell-bent on winning the game.

JK: Ben Walker, he probably won't play in round 3. Is Joe Williams
the favourite to fill in at halfback?

SM: Ben Walker won't play. There's no doubt about
that. Yeah Joe Williams or Mick Moran. Both guys played there last year at
different times. Joe's certainly played a lot more football then Mick Moran
has, so far this year, so in terms of match condition, Joe's probably got the
advantage in that respect. That's something I don't really have to make a
decision on until 3:30 on
Tuesday.

JK: You've worked as a coach in England and also in the media
simultaneously. Will we be seeing Shaun McRae writing a weekly column in a
Sunday newspaper any time soon?

SM: (laugh). No one's asked me, so I don't know. But that
might be an invitation, you might know more then I do. I enjoy the media work.
I never made a secret about that That might be somewhere further down the line
where I get more and more involved, I'm not too sure. I find with the media,
people have to knock on your door not you knock on theirs. Who knows what the
future holds in this business. I've been around in this game for a long time
and I’ve seen plenty come and go, so you never know. In some respects it's good
to have something else up your sleeve.

JK: Shaun, thanks for your time.

SM: Thank you. - Read More, Here