The genius who schooled Flanno
‘My money saved the Sharks’
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.”