Honesty lays foundation for Rebels skipper

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Rebels coach Dave Wessels wants just one thing from his new captain, Adam Coleman - for him to be himself.

Wessels has overseen the development of Coleman in recent seasons as the lock threw himself into Wallabies contention in 2016 and became a mainstay in 2017, stepping up for the Force despite injury setbacks.

When it came time for Wessels to pick his captain at the Rebels ahead of 2018, Coleman was a natural choice.

“I think he is a good leader already. He leads through his physical presence on the field and he's a real 'follow me' captain,” he said.

“I think he gets that he doesn't have to be somebody he's not.

The Rebels are putting their form in context. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart Walmsley“All I want from him is the same Adam, just with the same intensity that he's always brought.

“I think if he can do that, he keeps being honest with me, I think we're going to have a good relationship.”

Wessels sets high standards for Coleman, tougher on him than many of his other charges, and not afraid to challenge him, though the second rower certainly has no qualms returning the favour.

“I'm probably more honest with him than anybody else in the team and I have been for a long time but that's because my expectations of Adam are higher than other people on the team,” Wessels said.

“He's very honest with me, he's prepared to tell me exactly what he thinks and I probably tell him a fair amount of exactly what I think as well.”

The value Wessels places on Coleman’s approach makes sense when he speaks about the vision he has for the Rebels.

“I tend to gravitate towards those sorts of personalities I guess in some way too,” he said.

“We've got plenty of those in the group now, some really, really tough guys who are confrontational and want to be physical.

“ It's more than that, it's just the desire to want to play until the very last minute, to fight for every inch, that's the sort of personalities we're looking for. 

“That's the difference between winning and losing.” 

And it’s not something Coleman is looking to change any time soon.

“I think I really enjoy the physical side of rugby and I'm not going to go away from what I enjoy,” he said.

“I really enjoy playing rugby, I enjoy the physicality and I just see myself being the same player to be honest and just enjoying my football.

“When we're doing that, it goes a long way.

“It can be a good thing, leading by example but I suppose making smart decisions on and off the field, I think I've come a long way in that area.”

Those off-field decisions only cemented Wessels’ respect for his skipper.

“He has turned down some very lucrative opportunities to go overseas to stay here in Australia and commit himself not only to Melbourne but also to wider Australian rugby,” he said.

“I think people should recognise the personal sacrifices that he's made to be here and I think what it also gives him is a real purpose.

Adam Coleman is heading home. Photo: Getty Images“He hasn't stayed here to not be successful, he's stayed here because he wants to win.

“He's a world-class player, he shouldn't be happy with any performance that's less than world class and he knows that's my expectation of him and as a result I really sit on him about that all the time.

“I think he appreciates that and the fact he's followed us to Melbourne, I think he knows that that's ultimately the best for getting the best out of him.

“It's a relationship of mutual respect but we push each other but that's why I picked him.”

Something that will always be intertwined with their story is that of the Force, an experience that Wessels never wants to let of.

“If I reflect on what we did as a group, I think we fought much harder than people anticipated us to,” he said.

“On the field, off the field, in the media, in the courtrooms.

“We did everything we could to try and save the team. For me personally i feel very proud of those efforts.

“For me, it'll always be part of our identity.”

The Rebels open their Super Rugby season against the Reds on Friday February 23, kicking off at 7:45pm AEDT. Buy tickets here.