'Have fun, smile and let's play some rugby'
The Local · 11 May 2015, 11:47
Published: 11 May 2015 11:47 GMT+02:00
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Why did you decide to come to Spain?
I was offered the opportunity to go to Australia, but then I saw the advertisement to coach in Madrid. I was very interested because I couldn´t believe that there wasn´t a rugby league in Spain. Almost every European country has one. I like Spain and I liked the idea so I made my decision. Being given the opportunity to coach here has been massive for me.
Has been difficult coaching in a country without a rugby tradition?
When I first came it was a case of “we have no players, all the players play basketball, football or tennis.” Spanish people play every sport but rugby league.
So thought lets do something great, lets spread the word, let´s get people involved. We had five people in the first session. Now there are seven teams in Valencia, two in the south, two in Madrid and one in Barcelona.
And it’s getting more exciting. Is great to see the passion. I wear my Spanish badge with pride in the UK. I consider myself as passionate about it as the Spanish.
What is the goal for the Spanish team in 2017 World Cup?
We have been very positive from day one. We have every chance. We have spent the last two years in development. We have to keep developing our game. We will face countries with professional players from the Super League, so the road is very long. But it is possible. The three words: Career, passion, family. We are all working very hard to achieve this.
What is your opinion about Spanish players?
I fell in love with the passion of Spanish players. These guys want to learn, they are listening, they are focused, they want to be part of this sport. That doesn´t happen always in England. To be passionate to learn and to play, that´s what I love. That drives me on to do more and more.
Any piece of advice for newcomers to the game?
I played professionally back in the UK and I have spent 20 years in the game. The best advice I can give is: come and enjoy it. Rugby League is the passion of my life but it is not just about the game itself. I have so many friends and a big Spanish family, so all I can say about it is have fun, smile and play rugby.
What do you like about Spain?
The first trip abroad was to Spain when, when I came with mum and dad and that set the tone of my connection with the country. I lost my parents very young so that trip was important for me. Now to be part of Spain, pushing this team, teaching people, makes me feel proud. Spain is where I want to be and I'm sure we'll go far in our venture.
Interview by Agustin Millan, a Spanish journalist student based in Valencia