Son of a “coaching” gun – proof it works Roar Guru

By, is a Roar Guru


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    If young untried rugby league players were auctioned off by Inglis or Magic Millions like thoroughbreds, then those lucky enough to be sired by an NRL coach have a walk up start to fetch a sizeable bid and go on to play at the elite level.

    The chances of a young footy player making it to NRL level is minute, and to play in a key half position is even more minuscule, yet the NRL currently have a dozen budding halves registered who have the goods, and they all have links by blood to senior NRL coaches.

    It is an overwhelming statistic that says in bold print that to play in the NRL’s most demanding position, micromanaging by an NRL-class coach is a huge advantage, and if he happens to be your father the advantage is enhanced.

    Growing up and living with your coach could be worth millions to a player.

    If current NRL head Coaches Ivan Cleary, Shane Flanagan and Brad Arthur were created as stallion thoroughbreds, they would likely be living now in the luxury surrounds at Arrowfield or Coolmore studs.

    Current Wests Tigers head coach Ivan Cleary has mentored his son Nathan, 20, to be the NRL’s leading point scorer for 2017 and become the hot favourite to be the new NSW Blues halfback this year, while Shane Flanagan’s son Kyle (19) was a sensation for the Sharks under 20s team last year, breaking the National Youth Competition point scoring record with 360 points in 26 games, including 140 conversions at an 80 per cent success rate. He also scored 20 tries, 12 try assists and 15 line breaks.

    Nathan Cleary

    (Photo by Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images)

    It is a coincidence that the Blues two most promising halfbacks, and sons of head NRL coaches, were also the leading point scorers in the respective competitions?

    Remember the Eels coaches kid who beat Jarryd Hayne in a pre-season training run?

    His name is Jakob Arthur and he has set tongues wagging in the Harold Matthews competition for under 16s, and you have guessed it, he plays halfback. He faced off last weekend against Kade Dykes, the son of Adam, a brilliant half and nominated for the Sharks team of the half century.

    The list goes on!

    Maroons coach Kevin Walters must have been proud when his son Billy side stepped living legend Jonathan Thurston to score a try in his recent tribute match with Cam Smith. Billy, like his dad, has exceptional speed and silky balls skills that yielded 21 try assists in the Qld Cup last season.

    Guess who was the leading SG Ball player for try assists and line break assists last year?

    That would be Cooper Johns, the son of Matty Johns, who has also mentored Cooper Cronk, Brodie Croft and Cameron Munster. Matty’s other son Jack, represented Italy in the RL World Cup recently.

    Both Billy Walters and Cooper Johns are listed under the Craig Bellamy stable in Melbourne.

    Rooster’s Assistant coach Adrian Lam watched his son Liam represent PNG in the RLWC and score a brilliant solo try. He played last year in the Roosters NYC team with Sean O’Sullivan, yet another goal kicking halfback.

    Sean is the son of the Roosters former Recruitment Manager and Dragons coach Peter, and like Adrian, has been promoted to train with the NRL team this year.

    Peter O’Sullivan previously was in charge of recruitment at the Melbourne Storm and shared his apartment with a young Cooper Cronk who became close to club ball boy Sean. Fast forward to a pre-season Roosters trial against the Sea Eagles a few weeks ago, and can you imagine how chuffed Sean was when he was given the opportunity to run on and replace his idol Cooper Cronk?

    The Roosters have another couple of handy half’s called Ryan (moved to back row) and Dean Matterson, nephews of well-known NRL assistant coach Terry Matterson. Former Rabbitohs halfback and head coach Craig Coleman also has his son Liam feeding the scrum in the NSW Cup for the Panthers.

    Who says micromanaging does not create halves?

    Our budding halves have a golden opportunity for the last time to watch and learn from the master Jonathan Thurston before he retires.

    JT went past Andrew Johns as the highest rated player in my system only after he was coached by Paul Green who actually took him to an even higher level; the great man gave us a reminder of just why he is an immortal in waiting with his phenomenal performance last Friday night against the Broncos.

    Most dominant NRL halves have about eight runs a match from around 40 touches. JT had 32 runs from 67 touches last week.

    He did everything humanly possible to lift his team to a last-gasp win against the Broncos only to see Scott Bolton collide with the goal post after laying on what would have been his fourth try assist.

    What a role model!

    Player Dad/Relation Resume
    Nathan Cleary Ivan Cleary Wests Tigers Coach
    Billy Walters Kevin Walters Broncos Ass Coach, Maroons Coach
    Cooper Johns Matt Johns Storm, Knights Halfs coach
    Jack Johns Matt Johns Storm, Knights Halfs coach
    Kyle Flanagan Shane Flanagan Sharks Coach
    Liam Lam Adrian Lam Roosters Ass Coach
    Jakob Arthur Brad Arthur Eels Coach
    Dean Matterson Terry Matterson (Uncle) NRL Ass Coach
    Ryan matterson Terry Matterson (Uncle) NRL Ass Coach
    Shaun O’Sullivan Peter O’Sullivan NRL Recruitment, Dragons coach
    Liam Coleman Craig Coleman Rabbitoh Coach/Halfback
    Kade Dykes Adam Dykes Sharks/Eels Halfback
    Getting hassled by a parent or partner about spending too much time playing video games? Now, you can tell them the story of how some ordinary gamers scored $225k for just seven weeks of work.

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    The Crowd Says (26)

    • Roar Guru

      March 20th 2018 @ 10:59am
      Nat said | March 20th 2018 @ 10:59am | ! Report

      Interesting article Scott. Who, in your opinion, would be the most successful father/son combo in history? Top of my head, I’d say Mullins.

      • Roar Guru

        March 20th 2018 @ 11:41am said | March 20th 2018 @ 11:41am | ! Report

        I did not mention Wayne Pearce, former Wests Tigers coach, and his son Mitch.
        My colleague Paul Bunn thinks that there is an argument for Uncles over Dads. Clearly the coaching, and the after hours coaching is a key to halfbacks.

        • March 20th 2018 @ 12:22pm
          KenW said | March 20th 2018 @ 12:22pm | ! Report

          Uncles? The Gasniers come to mind. Would be tough to beat that set – not halfbacks of course.

    • Roar Guru

      March 20th 2018 @ 11:00am
      Nat said | March 20th 2018 @ 11:00am | ! Report

      Interesting article Scott. Who, in your opinion, would be the most successful father/son combo in history? Top of my head, I’d say Mullins possibly Rogers.

    • March 20th 2018 @ 11:00am
      Forty Twenty said | March 20th 2018 @ 11:00am | ! Report

      Interesting read Scott. I’ve looked at the father and son link before myself at the Eagles and have sadly concluded that ultimately after much hot air that most of these sons fade away after some early hype at my club anyway.

      Fulton, Eadie , Randall and Krillich to name a few appeared briefly but they were only half as good as the old man as they weren’t clones.

      A couple of Eadies were on the radar but when I saw them play they looked more like the old man towards the end of his career and didn’t have the explosive power. Hopoate is the exception to the rule to some extent.

      On JT, I thought he was unbelievable for the Cows but I had a look at the Cows forum and was amazed at how they were bagging him. The worst critics can often come from within.

      • Roar Guru

        March 20th 2018 @ 11:47am said | March 20th 2018 @ 11:47am | ! Report

        Forty Twenty,
        mate you just need Mrs Trbojevic and Hopoate to keep having babies!

    • Roar Guru

      March 20th 2018 @ 11:22am
      BA Sports said | March 20th 2018 @ 11:22am | ! Report

      it is a bit of a premature article isn’t it?

      On that list Cleary is the only one you would say has made it so far. The rest are still Group 2 or worse in the horsing vinacular.

      • Roar Guru

        March 20th 2018 @ 11:52am said | March 20th 2018 @ 11:52am | ! Report

        I said “dozen budding halves registered who have the goods”.
        That means they are talented enough to either play NRL standard now or likely to one day.
        Most of the list are kids and Nathan is certainly the highest rated, but he may not be in 5 years.

        • Roar Guru

          March 20th 2018 @ 1:51pm
          BA Sports said | March 20th 2018 @ 1:51pm | ! Report

          Yes but you also said, “It is an overwhelming statistic that says in bold print that to play in the NRL’s most demanding position, micromanaging by an NRL-class coach is a huge advantage…,” and only one of those guys has made it to the NRL so far. So it isn’t overwhelming really. Of the 32 guys lining up last weekend, only one has a dad that is a big name coach (you can have two including Cartwright). So how did these other 30 guys overcome the disadvantage of not having a top level coach as a dad? Isn’t it a more overwhelming stat that guys whose Dad doesn’t coach make it?

          • March 21st 2018 @ 6:20am
            mushi said | March 21st 2018 @ 6:20am | ! Report

            Yep it’s only an “overwhelming statistic” if you’ve never ever ever done statistics.

            An overwhelming statistic would be if you looked at every game played by a half in the NRL era and it was dotted with professional coaches sons and then after looking at coaching nurture versus pro athlete nature coaching still seemed to have more correlation with success.

            Even looking at that statistically insignificant list the bigger factor seems to be NRL player versus coaching which may suggest that having the genetics of a professional athlete helps.

            • Roar Guru

              March 21st 2018 @ 8:29am
              BA Sports said | March 21st 2018 @ 8:29am | ! Report

              And that genetic advantage isn’t always fast twitch fibres or time spent in the yard with dad – it can be sharing the same surname which gets you the selection nod in junior rep teams over someone with no pedigree.

          • Roar Guru

            March 21st 2018 @ 8:42am
   said | March 21st 2018 @ 8:42am | ! Report

            I would hate to be your wife mate, you would find a complaint with as backed dinner.

    • March 20th 2018 @ 12:52pm
      i miss the force said | March 20th 2018 @ 12:52pm | ! Report

      Was Adam Dykes really close to being in the sharks team of the century?

    • Roar Guru

      March 20th 2018 @ 2:07pm
      Matt H said | March 20th 2018 @ 2:07pm | ! Report

      If you were going to name a future halfback, you certainly do worse than Cooper Johns.
      Best father sons:

      And cross-coding – Gary and Keiron Jack

      Was Bryson Goodwin the some of Lord Ted?

      Best brothers is a trickier one.

      Walters, Kevin, Kerrod and Steve
      Mortimers, Steve, Chris and Peter
      The Thornetts, Ken and Dick
      The Johns’, Andrew and Matty
      The Turbo’s, Jake and Tom
      Matt and Mark Geyer
      Des and Rod Morris
      The Hughes’, Gary, Mark(?) and Graeme
      The Wynn’s, Steve and Peter
      In Brisbane the French brothers were legends for Wynnum Manly

      • Roar Guru

        March 21st 2018 @ 8:47am said | March 21st 2018 @ 8:47am | ! Report

        Great stuff mate…maybe history will say the Turbos, especially as they have a young brother called Ben who is an outstanding edge back rower.