Benji Marshall revealed to the West Tigers a new group of pathways mentors and a sneak peek into his coaching plan in preparation for the 2024 NRL pre-season.
Robbie Farah, John Morris, and Chris Heighington will join Marshall as assistant coaches. Marshall held a pathways induction session at the Zurich Center for coaches of all West Tigers junior and senior representative teams.
The Trickle-Down Strategy
During the induction session, Marshall presented the strategy guidelines concerning the NRL team’s defense and attack. These strategies are expected to trickle down through the club’s development teams. According to Marshall, connecting with the junior coaches will help build consistency through the grades.
The coach claimed that when a young player comes through the West Tigers rep teams and eventually makes it to the NRL, it is best for them to know the club’s philosophy. Furthermore, he claimed that coaching the players using similar guidelines makes their transition to first grade more effective.
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Mathew Betsey – We’re Reaping the Benefits
On the other hand, Mathew Betsey, the General Manager of Women’s and Pathways, claimed that coach education was a key ingredient of the club’s development strategy. He claimed that they are a development club and are determined to develop and retain the best talent in their catchment areas. According to Betsey, junior coaches, including representative coaches and junior league club coaches, play critical roles in player development.
The GM also claimed that their development programs will not target players alone. Instead, they’ll focus on coaches also. He said that they are already reaping the benefits of their trickle-down coaching strategy.
For instance, he revealed that a majority of their NRL squad for next season are products of the club’s pathways program. Additionally, most of the players have been coached at some point by one of the club’s junior rep coaches. As a result, when they transition to the NRL, they are already familiar with the methods and styles the club uses at the NRL and NRLW levels.
The 2024 Pathway Coaches
The club appointed Aaron Payne, former Northern Queensland Cowboys hooker and 2005 Grand Finalist, to take care of the NSW Cup team. He will also work as an assistant coach. This is a smart addition as Payne boasts a wealth of knowledge and coaching experience thanks to his stint as the Cowboys academy coach. He also served as the under-20s head coach before he became Townsville Blackhawks’ head coach.
Moreover, Leon Latulipe will coach the Jersey Flegg Cup side, and Joey Saukuru will keep his role as the Wests SG Ball Cup team’s head coach. Other members of the coaching staff include Tony Bazouni, Harrison Fox, Chris Yates, Mitchell Taylor, and Stephen Isdale. On the other hand, the two female teams at the club will be under Scott Clark (Lisa Fiola Cup) and Adel Hage (Tarsha Gale Cup).
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