What's the most important skill for a top coach; the ability to read plays, or read people?
That’s a question Sydney Stars management might have asked themselves before appointing sales and marketing guru Peter Playford as head coach for 2015.
The Sydney Stars are keen to make amends for last year’s result which saw them on the wrong end of the table.
Of course, in remembering last year, let us not forget the Crusaders’ inaugural season which also started in a similar fashion. And like the Crusaders before them, the Sydney Stars have more young talent than a TV show.
So who is Peter Playford, and why has he been charged with the responsibility of slapping down wins?
This is a man who frequents the pub after training still in his work shoes - minus his socks.
A man who instils discipline with boxing drills - by putting on the gloves himself.
He’s no stranger to top level rugby. Playford was pulled through the Joeys - Sydney Uni - Waratahs vacuum. Along the way he made Australian Schoolboys and U21s, parlayed a stint at the Brumbies and capped it off with a tipple at the Roosters. Standard stuff.
His claim to fame is probably scoring a relatively mental 29 tries for Uni in 2005 and in doing so broke a club rugby record that sat proudly on a perch for 40 years.
Playford had no respect for that plump and fatted milestone.
But can he coach?
Well this isn’t his first coaching gig, having trampled around Sydney Uni as coach since 2009, working across 1st colts, 3rd grade and now 1st grade, managing to win a few premierships along the way.
So it’s not a credibility issue that’s raising eyebrows. The thing that makes this appointment so ballsey for the rugby purists, is the way in which he goes about his coaching by leveraging marketing principles to motivate his players. Oh, and the fact that he’s not quitting his full time job at Sunshades Eyewear.
So what does Playford stand for, and what does he plan to bring? He took a couple of minutes to share his view on things, “You need three things to be successful; curiosity, communication and urgency.”
“I want to leverage curiosity. You get more people thinking about the solution and you will get the results.”
Curiosity seemed to be a consistent theme.
“My job is to get the training plans and logistics out of the way and let the boys use their creativity to produce their own results.”
“Self-awareness is everything in high performance.”
What of the players themselves?
“We don’t want big I-am’s. You can have big-name players who bring in a couple of customers, but those customers are there to see a show, a bearded lady, whatever. And if the chip-kick doesn’t end in a try then they’ll leave. I’m working towards long term results and getting real supporters through the gates. You can keep the customers.”
He thrashes from one thought to another like of a bag of feral cats. It’s hard to keep up.
Let’s poke the bag in 2015. Whatever happens, it’ll be exciting.