Brisbane Broncos playmaker Brodie Croft still has vivid memories of his days as a young budding junior in Toowoomba and the influence coaches had on him as he progressed his career to the NRL.
“I remember my first rugby league coach Nev Nickson. He really just instilled the enjoyment of rugby league and playing with your mates and that’s why we still do it today,” the Highfields Eagles junior said.
“I thought he was really good at just letting us be kids and play rugby league for the sport it was, and it was really fun.”
Through the help of the Broncos, the 23-year-old has recently become an accredited community rugby league coach and is looking to give back to the game by developing the next generation of footballers.
Joining a raft of teammates and Broncos legends including Karmichael Hunt, Darius Boyd, Matt Gillett, Alex Glenn, Ben Teo and Steve Walters, the 61-NRL gamer said the course itself with the game development team was a really beneficial experience and something he really enjoyed.
“It’s one thing being a player, but it’s a different thing being a coach. It’s a whole other side to rugby league,” Croft said.
“A few of the things I got out of it was how to prepare a training session, especially for ages six to 18 and obviously how you coach under 6 will be different to coaching under 13s or 18s.
“I thought it was good day all round and really well constructed. We had the theory side and then went outside to put it into practice, [but the main thing was] just knowing the fundamentals you want to be teaching and how you want to portray that to the rest of the squad you are training.”
Croft said the main influence on him to develop his coaching skills and to become accredited was the birth of his son at the end of last year.
“Maybe one day he might want to play rugby league himself in juniors and it would be good to be a part of that and interact with him and his mates at that age,” Croft said.
“Coaching may be something to look into [after playing], but I’m relatively young in my playing career, so it’s always nice to have something like that up your sleeve.
“[Plus] being able to coach gives you a greater understanding of the game and it can also correlate to learning more as a player, like what the coach is trying to get out of the players.”
Throughout his playing career to date, Croft said there were two things he had noticed about high quality coaches.
“I think all the great coaches I’ve had right through juniors to now; they’re passionate about rugby league and they’re passionate about developing their players,” Croft said.
“I think that’s the backbone of a really good coach.”
Croft said his passion for coaching continued to grow after experiences coaching in his local areas and with the community work he had done.
“When I go back home, I’ve had a couple of experiences coaching a session or two with the younger age groups and even doing community work,” Croft said.
“[I really enjoyed the experiences like] when we were in Darwin recently, we did some work with the Women’s Under 17s team up there and did some work with the disabled team as well.”
As a part of the Broncos squad, Croft also attended a community coaching clinic at the weekend at Brisbane Brothers as a part of Magic Round and is relishing the chance for more opportunities to work with junior league clubs.
“Anytime you get a chance to go out there and be a part of a community and help out where you can is a great experience and is something I really look forward to,” Croft said.
Find out more on how you can follow in the footsteps of the Broncos and become a community rugby league coach at qrl.com.au/play.