Brian McClennan has won Test matches and coached at the pinnacle of the club game in both the Southern and Northern Hemisphere. Now he’s back to help his local club, the Hibiscus Coast Raiders, in the Auckland second division.
Here’s his plan for the club in 2019.
You’ve been away from a head coaching role for a little while Brian, what was the inspiration behind your decision to get back involved in this capacity?
It was due to the fact that the club is in my area – I live just over the hill in Manly – and the fact that last season finished in a sour way for the club (Hibiscus Coast didn’t finish the second division regular season in 2018).
I just wanted to get back and help the club get back on their feat again. Also, it kind of completes the circle of coaching for me. I started there, I cut my teeth at the club, and I was lucky enough to go on and get some really wonderful experiences in the game. So now I want to go back to where it started and help out.
What’s been the immediate focus for you, in terms of trying to turn things around from last year?
It’s a totally new staff. The club itself is going really well, it’s just a matter of getting the top side and the reserves back in. It’s about getting them into a system that works for them.
We have had some trainings pre-Christmas and the boys have been left with some stuff to do over the break.
What will a successful season look like in your opinion?
Just us becoming more competitive. We are building from within, we are not recruiting players from outside of the area. They are welcome if they want to come, but we aren’t actively recruiting, we are trying to build the club from the ground up.
For me it’s about bringing the joy of rugby league back to people. In terms of results, I don’t know how we will go. But if we finish every game knowing we were competitive, that’s the main thing.
Previously the Hibiscus Coast have been known as one of the fittest teams in the second division… what type of squad do you hope to roll out come Round 1?
There’s a lot of local boys, it will be a very family-orientated team. You will find a lot of the boys who play in the team went to school together, and that’s really cool and exciting.
Your two sons have played for both the Raiders and Mt Albert, will they head back to the club with you?
Both of them loved playing for Mt Albert. They left the Raiders mainly just because there wasn’t a team for them at the time. I am a Mt Albert boy, but my boys are Hibiscus guys, their mates are here, they didn’t really want to leave the club in the first place.
We still need to sort out a team for my youngest, Dan, but Regan gets to play back at the club he grew up at. That’s something I am looking forward to.