McKenzie handed us the coaching duties : Lote



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Lote Tuqiri has says that the turn-round which has seen the Waratahs go from sixth place on the Super 14 points table to the Super final was because the team have been coaching themselves.

A column written by Lote Tuqiri in the Sunday Telegraph reveals that coach McKenzie let the players take control of the team once he had been told his contract would not be renewed.

Tuqiri writes, “Eight weeks ago, after being told his services were no longer required beyond this season, Ewen McKenzie walked into New South Wales headquarters and told us we were going to be coaching the team.

“Not lock, stock and barrel, but he told us he wanted us as players to partly take the wheel and steer us towards the finals.

“Despite all the coaching commotion going on around him, McKenzie put the team first. And it has worked.

“From the start of our coaching merry-go-round this year, the players got together and made a pact to blinker ourselves from all the outside distractions.

“We’ve heard all the theories about why McKenzie got let go and who’s going to get the top job for next year.

“From a coaching perspective, the big bloke pretty much walked in and handed the football back to us, the players.

“He told us we were professional footballers, students of the game, and he wanted our input. He wanted us to help coach the side. We all thought, sweet, how good is this. We were given homework on opposition sides and asked to help formulate game plans.

“It gave the team great balance and made a potentially awkward environment much more stable. Even better, it brought us together as a group and our results tell the story.

“Don’t get me wrong, McKenzie and assistants Todd Louden, Les Kiss and Steve Tuynman still had a huge role in our run to the finals.

“But if you look at the NRL clubs that sacked their coaches at the start of this season – the Bulldogs, North Queensland and St George Illawarra – they’re not travelling too flash.

“At the Waratahs, we played in the semi-finals on Saturday night. We’ve turned around from finishing 13th last year to finishing second this year. It’s been excellent. Being part of a team and working as a squad is one of the fundamentals of rugby.

“As a player group and coaching staff, we’ve had a special squad this season.

“The senior players – guys like Phil Waugh, Dan Vickerman, David Lyons and Adam Freier – have brought a stack of ideas to the table. They’ve bounced ideas around and then come back to our coaching staff and we’ve gone from there.

“We’ll then have team meetings and all the players are allowed a voice into the game plans, then we all workshop the best way to manufacture a win.

“Whoever the board decides to bring in next year, I’m sure they’re going to be quality operators.

“The set-up they are going to walk into is world class and I don’t think they’re going to need to reinvent too much.

“In my opinion, it’s a great gig.


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