The ge­nius who schooled Flanno

‘My money saved the Sharks’

Rugby League Week - - Front Page - BY GREG PRICHARD

SHANE FLANA­GAN SAYS LATE LEAGUE leg­end Ron Massey changed the way he thought about footy and made him see the light, in a re­la­tion­ship that went back 25 years to when the Cronulla coach was still play­ing. Af­ter last Fri­day’s win, Flana­gan pro­vided RLW with a fas­ci­nat­ing in­sight into his deal­ings with the man he was proud to call a men­tor. Massey, re­garded as one of the game’s great­est brains, died last week at 86 af­ter bat­tling ill­ness for years.

“Mick Cronin was the coach when I was play­ing at Parra in the early 1990s and ‘Mass’ was his off­sider,” Flana­gan says. “So for two or three years I had a lot to do with him be­cause he was ba­si­cally the as­sis­tant coach and he changed my think­ing about play­ing rugby league.

“I used to go out there as hooker and get into fights and push and shove and he just took me aside and made me re­alise I was go­ing about it the wrong way and what I was do­ing was a waste of time and en­ergy.

“Mass was the one, along with Mick Cronin, who pushed me into coach­ing. When I did my knee in 1994 I had an­other year on my con­tract, but he tapped me on the shoul­der and said, ‘How about you go into coach­ing, you would do a good job’.

“So Mass saw some­thing there and he men­tored me through all of that ini­tial pe­riod when I was an as­sis­tant coach at Parra. The way he ex­plained things made ev­ery­thing so clear to me and for a long pe­riod of time af­ter I started coach­ing I used to go to his house to talk.

“He was a re­ally smart man in terms of what he saw on the field and how he ex­plained it and what he wanted you to be like as a per­son off the field as well. He gave me a lot of tips about be­ing a coach and what he was see­ing in teams I was coach­ing, and I got a lot out of that.”

Flana­gan says when he first used to get phone calls from Massey he would start to worry.

“He used to call me up and say ‘I need to see you’ and I’d think to my­self, ‘Shit, what have I done here?’” Flana­gan says.

“What he saw from the out­side about the team, about me, when I was coach­ing at Par­ra­matta and then when I went to the Roost­ers as an as­sis­tant and later Cronulla, pro­vided a great in­sight for me. He made me look at things dif­fer­ently. He was a great man.”

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