Coaching a Culture; Part 1 - Coach Collinson's thoughts on the 2018 season ahead of Saturday's final

This week sees the biggest game in Roughnecks history with the NFC 2 Final against the Chester Romans. We've sat down with each of the coaches this week to bring you their opinion on where the team stands heading into the game, and how they view the success of the 2018 season so far. First up in the series is Interim Head Coach and Offensive Co-ordinator, Ruari Collinson:

Firstly, how are you feeling ahead of Saturday?

I have mixed emotions ahead of Saturday. I'm very excited however, also slightly nervous which I think is just natural ahead of such a big game. I'm confident that the effort we have put into preparations this week and last that we will compete on Saturday and have every chance of bringing that bowl home.

Are you surprised at how far the team has gone this season?

I think at the very start of the season it was hard to gauge what the division would be like, there was a lot of unknowns in terms of the calibre of our opposition, however I always expected to compete for the division title and as each game went on we expected more and more from the team as they showed so much potential. They thoroughly deserve to have reached this stage and so I would say I’m not too surprised. 

What was the most important change you feel you made this season?

The change of culture. I think the attendance policy was huge, having guys practicing together is part of the reason this team has been so successful this year, myself and the coaches have had to make some tough decisions on player selection due to attendance to send out that message and it has certainly paid off this year. I think everyone involved has realised the commitment levels have risen from previous years and the players have really reacted and bought into that and are now reaping the rewards. 

Who, so far, have been the stars on your offence?

The great thing about my offence this year is they are a complete unit that have many weapons capable of hurting an opposition defence. QB #16 Chris Breen has an exceptional football mind and threw for 16 TDS in 7 games and so far 6 in the playoffs. Receivers Rhys Emslie #18 and Lewis Hughes #6 have both excelled this year, showing great awareness, speed and catching ability. They are both tied on 6 TDs each, through 9 games. If an opposition is lucky enough to shut down those two however then there is also Mr Reliable, Rob Hayes who has the most receptions throughout the regular season and had a big game in the semifinal. And last but not least a huge part of the offence's success this year is the O Line, they have been outstanding most of the year, and although everyone that has played on the line has contributed well, left tackle Andy Watts and right guard Kieran DeGabriele (Angel) have been consistent performers, with the latter being a bulldozer in the run game opening up 3 holes for TDs in the regular season. 

What will be the key to the game on Saturday, where will the game be won and lost in your opinion?

I think at some point it will come down to who wants it more, Chester’s offence is very good, they have proven this season that they can move the ball quick and effectively and put a lot of points on the board, with the preparations put in place we can limit their offence. Their defence does the simple things right and likes shutting down the oppositions strength, we have more than one strength on offence so I feel we will be able to move the ball and score, I think it will be tough and a close game in the end but in the end come down to the team with the more desire and want to win.

Beyond Saturday, what are your goals for the club in division 1 next season and more long-term?

The goal next year will be to stay in division 1 and strengthen each year and establish ourselves as a legitimate BAFA programme. We intend to set up a junior programme that will compete in the junior leagues and provide a constant source of recruitment for the senior team.