Being a coach in 2012 is a different beast to what our forefathers had to face. It is a dog-eat-dog world, and if you’re not the dog eating, you’re the dog being eaten.
The love is fleeting and the hate is lasting. But two men still stand and refuse to wilt into history.
Wayne Bennett and Tim Sheens are the last of the Mohicans.
These two have made lesser men not just better football players, but better people. Off course they have egos and they like them being played with. But legacy is all we have and they continue to carve out their hefty pieces.
They know that only respect gets the best out of their players. In return, the players hand them premierships on blood stained silverware.
Bennett and Sheens will eventually step down from the coaching game and one day, they will eventually die. They know this. They know because there is no grey areas.
They are guys who have lived the game as they’ve seen it. They know life’s certainties: death, taxes and rugby league footy.
Combined, these two have gone through over fifty seasons of first grade coaching. A scary number considering how short the life expectancy of a coach is in this day and age.
They have had to evolve with the times and reinvent themselves over and over again. You have to keep moving or you are forgotten.
Who knows how long they will go? Surely time is creeping up on them.
Darren Lockyer knows both of them well.
“The Sheens coaching CV stretches back to 1984 with Penrith; Bennett’s to 1987 with Canberra. They want the premierships that are up for grabs every year and they will be around a while yet,” Lockyer once said.
“I have been coached by Wayne for many more games than Tim, but the Tigers coach is probably more of a tactician.
“His game plans and his ideas on attacking moves represent a different way of coaching to Wayne’s, who keeps things simple and focuses on little things. Keeping things simple will work forever.”
You can almost see them in the distance. Two old cowboys at the end of their run. Hand on the holster and daring the other to draw.
Old school barely has a place in our game anymore. But the more things change, the more they stay the same. Like sand through the hour glass, so are Bennett and Sheens.
Bennett wins the shootout, by the way.