They are the players who showed that they where not only handy players, but brilliant coaches. The players in this team were weighed up by both their contribution to the game as a player, and their success as a coach
1. Clive Churchill
The best player of all time, when Churchill turned his hand to coaching he brought South Sydney a new era of success. Churchill coached the Rabbitoh’s to four Grand Final wins in the late 60’s and early 70’s and proved yet again he was outstanding in yet another discipline the game had to offer.
2. Wayne Bennett
A winger of some ability, Bennett toured with the Australian squad in1971 although he did not gain a test jersey. A Brisbane club player who never was destined never to take part in the NSWRL, Bennett would go on to become one of the greatest coaches the game has seen. After coaching South’s and Brothers in the Brisbane competition, Bennett would go on to become Queensland State Of Origin coach and would coach the side on and off over the course of more than a decade. Co-coach of the 1987 Canberra Raiders Grand Finalists, Bennett would take on the task of coaching the Brisbane Broncos in their first season in the NSWRL in 1988. Bennett would go on to coach the Broncos to 5 Grand Final wins (And a Super League title) and become the longest serving coach in the history of the game at any one club.
3. Bill Kelly
One of only two players to have represented both Australia and New Zealand in Rugby League, Kelly was a duel international in his native New Zealand, he toured Australia with the New Zealand Rugby League team in 1912-13 before linking up to play with the Balmain Tigers in 1914. He played for Australia that same year against England in what would be his one and only Test appearance for his adopted country. Kelly played for NSW in 1915 and was the captain of the undefeated Premiership winning Balmain Tigers win that same year. His career was curtailed by World War One, but after his retirement as a player his become known as the “Prince Of Coaches” coaching University in 1923 and 1924, and Newtown in1936 and 1937. Linking up with his old club, he coached Balmain for seven seasons between 1938 and 1943 which saw the club win the Premiership in 1939. He would go on to coach St George in 1944 and Canterbury in 1945 in a remarkable career.
4. Phil Gould
A handy utility player who captained Penrith in just his second first grade appearance, Gould would go on to make an appearance for Newtown in the 1981 Grand Final. Gould moved into a coaching role with the Canterbury Bulldogs in 1987 and after taking over the head coaching role in 1988 he became the youngest premiership winning coach in NSWRL history at the age of just 30. Gould move on to coach Penrith to their first Grand Final appearance in 1990 before leading the club to its first Premiership in 1991. Leaving the club in 1994, Gould took over as coach of the Sydney Roosters taking Brad Fittler and Matt Sing with him as the Super League battled loomed. While helping the Roosters build into a winning club and becoming the most successful coach in State Of Origin history, Gould was instrumental in the ARL’s fight against Super League. After leaving the Roosters head coaching role Gould forged a controversial career as a commentator as well as continuing his incredible record as NSW coach when called upon.
5. Chris Anderson
An Australian test winger, a premiership winner as a player and coach, Anderson coached Halifax to Challenge Cup glory in 1987 before taking over as coach of the Canterbury Bulldogs and leading the team to the 1995 Grand Final before finally winning the Premiership in 1996 with the clubs win over Manly. Anderson would move on to become the coach of the Melbourne Storm in 1998 coaching the team to an incredible semi final appearance in their first season before taking the club to an incredible Grand Final win in 1999. Anderson would move on to Cronulla in a move that ended in a bitter split and legal battle with the club. He spent a season coaching rugby union in Wales before linking up with the Sydney Roosters in 2007.
6. Bob Fulton
One of the greatest players of all time, Fulton played in two Grand Final losses before being instrumental in the Manly Sea Eagles first Premiership win in 1972 and captained the club to two more Grand Final wins in 1973 and 1976. After retiring in 1979, Fulton coaches the Sydney Roosters to a Grand Final appearance in 1980 as well as back to back Minor Premierships in 1980 and 1981. Moving to coach Manly in 1983, Fulton coached the season to Premiership glory in 1987, before stepped down as coach in 1989. Taking up the head coaching role again with the Sea Eagles in 1993, Fulton coaches the Sea Eagles two three straight Grand Finals in the mid 90’s winning the 1996 Premiership and setting new standards with his clubs incredible defensive record. As Australian coach Fulton led his nation to World Cup wins in 1988, 1992 and 1995 and continued Australia’s dominance and brilliant at that level until he stepped down in 1997. Resigning as Manly coach in early 1999. Fulton went on to become an Australian selector and a radio broadcaster.
7. Ricky Stuart
A three times premiership winner as a player, Stuart took the Sydney Roosters to Grand Final success in 2002 in his first season as a first grade coach. Stuart brought in a new era of dedication and commitment to winning into the NRL and in three straight NRL Grand Final experiences the Roosters showed they were one of the best coaches teams in the competition.
8. Tim Sheens
A prop with Penrith, Sheens would eventually coach the lowly Panthers club to their first playoff appearance in the mid 1980’s. A three time premiership winner with the Canberra Raiders and being in a rare breed of coaches that have won Grand Finals with two different teams when he coached the West Tigers to a Grand Final win in 2005, Sheens has proven to be one of the greatest coaches in the history of the game.
9. Ken Kearney
A champion hooker and a great leader, Kearney played 25 Test’s for Australia having captained in nation ahead of the great Clive Churchill at one point. He Captained St George to six premiership wins, five of which were won in the role of captain-coach. Described as a ruthless professional who brought a real edge to the club, Kearney was known for having a poor relationship with referee’s.
10. Jack Gibson
A Grand Finalists twice as a player with Easts and Wests respectively, Gibson would later become known as one of the most innovative coaches in the games history. After taking over a winless Easts side, Gibson would coach the club to back to back semi finals in 1968 and 1969. A move to St George the following year would eventually result in a Grand Final loss before heading to Newtown and helping the club secure its one and only club championship title (For being the best all round club in all grades). It was at this time Gibson started to take training aspects from the NFL and incorporated them into Rugby League. He coached Easts to Grand Final wins in 1974 and 1975 before heading to a poor Souths club and then moving on to Parramatta.The Eels would win three consecutive premierships under Gibson between 1981 and 1983, a feat that saw him equal Ken Kearneys record of five Grand Final wins as a coach.
11. Steve Folkes
A winner of Four Grand Finals as a player, Folkes was known for his incredible fitness and his rock solid defence. A NSW State Of Origin and Australian Test player, Folkes retired in 1990, before returning to the Bulldogs in 1991 as a conditioner before playing part of the season at hooker! Folkes spent time as an assistant coach under Chris Anderson before taking over as head coach in 1998. He coached the Bulldogs to a Grand Final loss to the Brisbane Broncos Folkes proved his coaching credentials through some tough years with the Bulldogs before a dream 2002 season was destroyed after it was revealed the Bulldogs had been rorting the salary cap by millions of dollars. Folkes led the club through some very tough season but was rewarded in 2004 with his first Grand Final win as a coach.
12. Norm Provan
An icon of the game, a winner of 10 Grand Final as a player and an Australian Test legend. Provan was captain-coach of the St George Dragons in his last four seasons as a player before taking the club to the semi finals the season following his retirement. Provan would go on to coach Parramatta in 1975 before coaching the Grand Finalist Cronulla Sharks in 1978 and 1979.
13. Mal Reilly
A premiership winner with Manly as a player and one of the key players in Great Britain’s Ashes win in 1970, Mal Reilly made a career for himself as a great ball player and one of the toughest players in a tough era. After his playing career Reilly took on the job as coach of Great Britain brining new commitment and professionalism to the nation side. After standing down as Great Britain coach in 1994 Reilly went on to coach the Newcastle Knights to a memorable Premiership win in 1997.
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