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"If you’re not at your best... you won’t win"

"I WISH I was coaching, not playing."

I remember thinking that on numerous occasions over the past few seasons as a player.

I’d be getting changed and about to head out to the warm up, wishing I was calling the shots from the sidelines and not taking directions on the field.

Before matches, I had this nervous energy inside me.

It was always there but grew greater towards the end of my 238-match Intrust Super Cup career.

However, once I began the warm up, I knew I didn’t want to be anywhere else.

Guy Williams in action during his Intrust Super Cup career. Photo: QRL Media
Guy Williams in action during his Intrust Super Cup career. Photo: QRL Media

I loved playing league, I just hated those few moments before the match.

Sitting. Waiting. Thinking.

As a coach, I do occasionally wish I was playing – it’ll hit me when I’m at training and see the Intrust Super Cup players do their thing.

But not when I’m sitting on the sidelines or up in the stands, calling the shots as things unfold on field.

Game day as a coach brings something else. There’s something truly exhilarating about coaching.

In that time before kick-off when I’ve said my final thing to the players, and I'm heading to the coaches’ box, I feel a sense of nervousness and excitement.

Behind closed doors: Blackhawks coach Aaron Payne

You must trust in your players, your coaching staff and yourself.

Have we prepared well?

I’ve always wondered whether coaches know when their side is going to perform well, or do the opposite.

Is there something about the way the players are talking, how they are carrying themselves, how they trained the night before, the intensity in the warm-up?

I wonder if Central Queensland Capras coach David Faiumu knew his side was going to start their 2019 campaign with a win?

It was pleasing to see the Capras register the club’s first win over the Magpies at Davies Park in 15 seasons.

That’s 15 years without a victory at the Magpies’ traditional home – a very long time.

Fittingly, the last time the Capras won at Davies Park, the current coaching staff were playing.

Faiumu and assistants Lionel Harbin and Grant Broadhurst all featured in the side’s last win, way back in 2003.

Unfortunately for my former club, they weren’t able to follow up their Round 1 performance with a win over Wynnum Manly Seagulls in Round 2 or local rivals Mackay Cutters last weekend.

My current club Norths Devils received the same fate at the hands of Easts Tigers after a quality Round 1 win over Burleigh Bears.

However, they bounced back with a dominant 42-16 win over Souths Logan Magpies at Davies Park on Sunday.

Just two sides - Easts Tigers and Sunshine Coast Falcons - are three wins from the opening three Intrust Super Cup rounds.

Falcons' Nicho Hynes in action during the Falcons Round 2 win over Redcliffe Dolphins. Photo: QRL Media
Falcons' Nicho Hynes in action during the Falcons Round 2 win over Redcliffe Dolphins. Photo: QRL Media

That’s the beauty of the Intrust Super Cup, Hastings Deering Colts and Auswide Bank Mal Meninga Cup competitions; they’re tough.

If you’re not at your best, even if it’s just by the slightest margin, you won’t win.

I’ve lost plenty of matches where I thought I was a part of the better side.

It’s a terrible feeling to look back on a match and think, ‘we had that game... if only for that five to 10 minute period, then we would’ve won'. 

It’s tough to take for the players, and I’m sure it must be equally – if not more – hard to handle for the coaching staff.

Win a handful of those matches and you’re a long way up the ladder.

That’s a challenge for coaches.

My Devils Auswide Bank Mal Meninga Cup side started their season with a 38-38 draw with Bears three weeks ago.

We were leading 28-6 after 18 minutes; I remember joking to someone at the time that this coaching business was easy. 

How I was wrong.

Bears stormed back into the game to earn a draw in the final minutes.

It happened again in Round 2.

Leading 30-10 with 26 to go, Tigers scored tries in the 58th, 60th and 63rd minute to narrow the margin to eight; we showed a little more composure and a pinpoint kick in the final few minutes saw us finish 34-22 winners.

Last weekend, against premiers Souths Logan Magpies, we trailed 18-0 after about 10 minutes; Souths Logan didn’t score a point after that moment.

How can that be possible?

Narrowing the margin to 18-4 at half-time, we didn’t look like scoring until the final nine minutes of the match; it was then that we delivered two converted tries and slotted a penalty to snatch a draw.

What young players don’t realise is that teams trailing aren’t going to continue playing the way they have up to that point.

What does the opposition have to lose? They’re already a long way behind, so it’s either lose, lose big or get right back into the match.

The Bears and Tigers both found a way back into the match.

We also did against Souths Logan on Sunday.

All three sides played the style of footy they probably should have played from the opening kick-off.

I’ve started my coaching career with a win and two draws; all three matches have been see-sawing, highly entertaining affairs.

What will the fourth on Sunday against the Sunshine Coast Falcons deliver?

At this early stage in my coaching career, I do not know.

But I can’t wait to find out.