SEIBOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL
How a stunted attack was transformed into something special by a rookie coach
AMONG the first things Anthony Seibold did when he took over as South Sydney coach was come up with three core principles that have brought the Rabbitohs’ attack back to life.
He called it “starting from a blank piece of paper”. But words — or principles as Seibold likes to say — quickly became attached to them. The three core values were: how to create momentum; how to apply pressure; and then how to capitalise once pressure was applied to opposition teams.
“I had notes under those areas,” Seibold says. “But those were the three principles I wrote down about how we can be more effective in attack. I didn’t see any point in complicating things but they were the principles on how we can create, apply and capitalise on pressure.
“I had a good sit down and had a look at what I would call our game model and what we wanted it to look like. I wanted it to look at how we build pressure and play with effort. That was the language I used with the players and coaching staff. We then had a look at what that means for attack, defence and what it means from transition.
“The pre-season was very different from an attacking point of view. We had to start form a blank piece of paper.”
South Sydney never evolved from the power game that brought with it a historic 2014 premiership. After failing to make the finals for the past two seasons, Seibold instigated a much-needed shake up.
He said they spent 73 per cent of pre-season training doing football-related drills. Their spine — along with Seibold — did private coaching sessions with Matty Johns once a week for seven weeks during the summer.
Seibold still talks to Johns weekly. Their pre-season focus was about pitting against each other with ball in hand.
“We did loads of scenario-and situation-based drills always with footy in hand and always keeping the score,” Seibold said. “There was always a competition and a clock. We tried to replicate game scenarios. One thing we’ve tried to do is train above game speed. That’s the biggest difference. We aren’t on the park as long as they have been used to but we are training with a lot more
intensity. The GPS data is through the roof in comparison to the previous data.”
After establishing his core principles, Seibold went about implementing his coaching philosophies. The schoolteacher did that by breaking down the three principles and giving players a direct focus.
“We had to strip things back,” he said. “If you start day one of pre-season (saying all this), they will look at you blankly. We had to break it down and have a narrow focus.
“First focus was creating quicker play-the-balls to give our halves and our key ball players time. The second thing was off the back off quick playthe-balls trying to get our players in one-on-one or two-ontwo tackles instead of three-onone and we need our halves and ball players to have the hands on the footy more.
“Third was capitalise once we’ve stretched the defence. We need to capitalise and shift the ball more.”
Seibold has stayed true to his word with the likes of Cody Walker, Alex Johnston and Damien Cook thriving. Walker is touching the ball a whopping 14 more times per game while halfback Adam Reynolds’ touches are up by nine. Fox Sports Lab statistics also reveal the Rabbitohs are scoring five more points per game and have the most line breaks of any club heading into round 10.
Despite being more adventurous with the football, the team is completing 1 per cent better than last year.
“I’m comfortable with the way we’ve improved but I’m not content,” Seibold said. “Like I keep talking to the guys, ‘little things become big things. Keep being mindful. If we get loose with anything we’re trying to do regarding our standards, then you’ll get what you deserve on game day’.
“The next area we have to get better in is being a bit more ruthless. There have been times we’ve had an opportunity to put the foot on the throat.
“We have a big test against the No.1 team the Dragons (today). They suffocated us a few weeks ago and we are under no illusion they are the benchmark.”