Bus driver: Former swim coach the man behind Tigers’ winning culture
By Adrian Proszenko
15 May 2018 — 5:58pm
He’s helped get the best out of Olympic champions and a raft of stars across Australian sport, but it’s unlikely anyone has will benefit more from his presence than Wests Tigers.
The joint-venture outfit has engaged Bill Nelson, of Total Performance Concepts, to help shape its culture. While the term ‘culture’ is perhaps the most used and abused word in world sport, every club knows it is the intangible quality that determines success.
And it’s something Nelson - who has worked with athletes in sports including basketball, AFL, swimming, tennis, golf and surfing - is helping to shape with coach Ivan Cleary to ensure everyone is ‘on the bus’.
Tigers officials and players are reluctant to speak about the work they have done on their culture, believing they have yet to achieve anything. However, it’s apparent they are on the right track as Cleary’s new-look side rockets to an unexpected share of fourth spot on the ladder.
Nelson helped Cleary with his last rebuild, at Penrith, and the former Australian Olympics swimming coach has again been called on to lay down the values at Concord.
“Winning is in the picking,” Nelson said. “If you want to get a good culture and want a good team, pick good people. That is in no way having a go at anyone who was here in the past, but knowing what we needed to accomplish, it was going to take not only a certain type of player but a certain type of person.”
There will be times at every club that standards aren’t met, as evidenced by the Tigers’ decision to drop Mahe Fonua for a disciplinary breach. However, one thing Cleary and Nelson have been keen to foster is a accountability and a healthy competition for spots.
“Everyone wants something for themselves out of this, but at the same time these guys are prepared to put the other person first. We’re trying to build a team based on trust and when I say you don’t pull the rug out from someone, you have to trust the guy next to you enough to fulfil their role so you can fulfil yours.
“We don’t have a mantra at all. Ivan’s mantra from the start ‘was on the bus’. It’s about the direction we’re headed and we think we can provide something unique so you can get the best out of yourself.”