Grass roots rugby league coach Jason Swann says his trip away with the Vodafone Warriors’ Intrust Super Premiership side has “re-energised me in my role as a coach”.
ISP coach Stacey Jones came up with the idea to take a local coach with his side for its away games against the Mounties in Canberra last weekend.
Swann, who is the principal at Otahuhu Primary School, was recommended by the Auckland Rugby League. A coach with the Ellerslie Eagles, he has been appointed Auckland’s U/14-15 restricted White Regional representative team this year.
He joined Jones, his staff and players at Auckland Airport last Friday to travel to Canberra before returning on Sunday.
Of his experience Swann said: “I cannot speak highly enough of the players, staff and Warriors environment that I had the pleasure of being a part of for their trip to Canberra.
“Initially when I received the call I thought it was a cousin or friend playing a practical joke on me. I do have a few practical jokers around me and they know that I am a staunch Warriors fan and if they could trick me like this I would never live it down.
“So at the beginning of my conversation I was cautious. This may have come across as not really being enthused but that wasn’t the case. When I realised that it was true I was actually lost for words, which very rarely happens.
“To hear that the Auckland Rugby League had put my name forward was very humbling and I would like to thank those at the ARL for the privilege.
“I would like to thank (coach) Stacey (Jones) and Rick (assistant coach Ricky Henry) for their inclusive nature and their seamless ability to include me in everything they did. They went out of their way to include me in their thinking about game plan, structure and team intricacies that would produce a positive result for the club.
“I was very impressed with their passion for the team and club and their professionalism in striving for excellence and success for the team. They made me feel like part of the team and not just an add on. So much so that I had to sing a song on the bus because I was the new guy travelling.
“One of the many highlights of the trip for me was being able to sit in the coaches’ box and listen to the game plan thinking and directions being issued and watching the implementation of strategies to enable the team to win.
“(Football staff) Dayno (Dayne Norton), Jase (Jasen McCarthy) and Luke (Wilson) were also a credit to the club. They included me at every opportunity and shared thoughts, ideas and jokes right throughout the trip. I felt really comfortable around them and again was made to feel like part of the team. They went out of their way to include me and take me along to different aspects of the trip that they thought I might benefit from. They are a great bunch of guys and an excellent management team.
“I would like to thank the players. They also included me in everything and would make sure I was alright. At breakfast they would pass by and shake hands and chat and were very inclusive. They are a credit to themselves, their families and importantly the club.
“Lastly I would like to extend a huge thank you to (manager Joe (Williams). He was tasked with organising me from start to finish, of which he did an exemplary job. I was extremely impressed with his high level organisational skills and the mature manner in which he had everything sorted. He is a very skilled manager and the Warriors are very fortunate to have him as part of the club. He made sure I was always alright, that I knew what we were doing and where I was supposed to be. He was able to do this effortlessly, amongst the myriad of tasks he was already completing throughout the trip. He certainly is a credit to the club and the team. I can’t thank him enough for everything he did.
“The concept of taking a coach along to travel with the team is an amazing opportunity. Stacey and Rick openly shared ideas and game structures with me that I found invaluable. It re-energised me in my role as a coach. It would certainly be an idea that I would support continuing. In fact, I would happily put my name in the hat to do it all again!
“The team, led by Stacey and Rick with great support from Joe and the management team, are superb ambassadors for the Vodafone Warriors. I wish them every success for the rest of the season and I didn’t want the time I had with them to end. But who knows what the future holds. If I get another phone call, I’ll definitely drop everything and join in!
“I’m keeping the faith. Go the Warriors!”