Egos at the door for Reds coaching duo

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Queensland Reds co-coaches Nick Stiles and Matt O’Connor say they won’t be letting egos or ambition get in the way of team success in 2016.

The pair will be joint head coaches for the remainder of the season, after the club released Richard Graham this week, with Stiles focusing on the forwards and O’Connor taking on attack and defence responsibilities.

Both were part of the head coaching application process last season but O’Connor said their head coaching ambitions wouldn’t affect the joint role.

“It’s not about us,” he said.

“It’s about the players and we’ve got t o get a performance out of them.

“We’ve got to try and make them better, we’ve got to try and put them in a position to win games of footy because that’s what they want to do.

“They’re incredibly disappointed and they understand how poor they’ve been and they’ve got to be better.”

O’Connor said there would be plenty of room for “honest, robust” discussions in the new setup.

“We’re trying to get the best out of the blokes who are entrusted to coach.

“There's’ a lot of dialogue, there’s a lot of conversation, there’s a hell of a lot of work that goes into it.

“We’re both big enough know that if Stilesy feels strongly enough about something in the forwards and I feel strongly about something in the backs then there’s a reason why and we’ll come to the team for a solution.”

Stiles and O’Connor have wasted little time tinkering with their lineup, making five changes to the starting side that fell to the Force on the weekend.

Andrew Ready will start at hooker in place of injured Saia Fainga’a, while Sef Fa’agase will also make his run-on debut at loosehead, with Waita Setu replacing Curtis Browning at openside flanker.

Japanese Test star Ayumu Goromaru has been shifted to the bench in a reshuffle that will see Anthony Fainga’a return to inside centre, with karmichael Hunt starting at fullback.

Stiles said the duo had been brutally honest to their players in the week following their 22-6 loss to the Force, that coaches and players alike have branded unacceptable.

“We’re both very abrasive in the way we coach the game,” he said.

“We don’t hold back in telling a few of them some honest truths and they’ve really enjoyed that.

“We’ve been hard on them on field and our reviews of the performance of last weekend.

“For us moving forward, we’re both pretty abrasive and that’s how we’ll continue to be.”

The Reds travel to Melbourne this weekend to take on the Rebels at AAMI Park on Saturday at 7:40pm AEDT.