Today’s Tigers a different breed but Tim still king of the jungle
February 27, 2010
Tim Sheens turns 60 in October. None of the players in his Wests Tigers squad were born when he was establishing himself as a rugged prop for Penrith in the 1970s, and many - Benji Marshall included - still didn’t exist by the time he began his coaching career in 1984.
But you only have to observe Sheens with his youthful playing group to realise the 592-game coach has their respect. It was only this week that Marshall, fresh from signing a long-term contract with the Tigers, implored the club’s administrators to offer Sheens a new contract. Clearly, a four-year absence from the finals has done little to diminish Sheens’s standing in the eyes of his marquee player.
So how does he relate to them, and how has he stayed in the game for so long?
‘‘You’ve got to look forward, not back - you can’t be talking about what was good about the game 30 years ago and saying it should still be in the game, like scrums or all the other garbage some people go on with - and you can’t allow yourself to become cynical about the game and life, which can happen to older players and older coaches,’’ Sheens says. ‘‘Young players and coaches don’t get caught up in that.’’
Adapting to new generations, different cultures and the evolving tactics of rugby league are all part of the job for Sheens. Part technician, part father figure, the Tigers’ mentor is constantly adapting and refining.
‘‘You’ve got to try and maintain a young man’s attitude and look at the game and the athletes today,’’ he said. ''The values don’t change, but they’re a different breed of kid today. Some of your ideas as a coach never change, but it’s how you dress them up. Young athletes today, they come through a different system.
''Often, the first real discipline players get is when they get to grade. It doesn’t mean you go light on them, but what you’ve got to understand is that life is different now. There are a lot more Polynesian and Aboriginal kids in footy clubs now, and you’ve got to be able to learn how to deal with a mixture of different cultures.
‘‘In days gone by, people wanted players to conform to a rigid style - you know, you were a team man, you didn’t do this and you didn’t do that, you weren’t a lair. But the young players are a lot more individual today. You can’t tell them their hair’s too long or they shouldn’t wear an earring. Today, it’s rat’s tails and different hairstyles and different-coloured boots, a whole heap of things are different, but that doesn’t mean the kids aren’t tough.’’
Or league-savvy. Sheens believes the footballing intellect of today’s youthful footballers is superior to that of rookies in Sheens’s playing days.
‘‘They know more at 21 than we did at 25 as far as footy’s concerned, by a long way,’’ he said. ''They’re much better educated in that area. I accept it all and work with that. I don’t say I master it, but I don’t fear trying to relate to my young guys.
‘‘I can’t say how they see me - I know when I was a kid and my old man was in his 30s, I thought he was old - but … you just can’t afford to seem old-fashioned.’’
To quote one of my favourite movies:
"It’s about Looove……It’s about Connection!
(40 yr old Virgin…Punjab dude talking to Andy in the Electronics store)
Respect is learning and understanding someone elses character and using their knowledge and life experiences to better yourself and your life!
We often get involved in the politics of footy but don’t look deeper into exactly what role a coach has at a club.
Yes their main objective is to win but to get to that stage much more than just training hard and implementing tactics is involved.
They must learn and connect with their players-individually. Offer advice/mentor the players and be that shoulder to lean on when things just aren’t looking up for whatever reason in their personal lives. because lets face it, if things arent right at home then it would be extremely difficult to perform to the best of your ability once you take the field.
I don’t often agree with the coaching decisions that Tim makes but I have extreme confidence that the players WANT to be coached by him and WANT to learn from his coaching experiences.
could there be stats to prove that we are the best behaved club in the NRL off field? not that this gets us in the finals (i wish) but we have kept our sponsors happy in tough financial times. I also have been guilty of rubbishing alot of Tim’s decisions on this forum and his inability to get us to the finals but love him or hate him, I’m sure everyone still has massive respect for the guy.