The Raptor’s new attack coach, Stephen Brett, has a long and storied career playing for teams across New Zealand (Crusaders and Blues), Japan (Toyota Verblitz) and France (Bayonne and Lyon, Clermont, Narbonne), but he’s just recently made the transition to coaching. We were lucky enough to grab a moment of his time to ask about his switch to coaching and his big move to the US.
What are the most important qualities of a coach?
For me, coaching comes down to being able to adapt to every player’s needs to achieve their rugby goals. My mission will be to give them as much guidance with the experience I have gained over my playing career.
How has the game changed since you started playing? And how has that affected your strategy for coaching the attack?
Players these days are just getting bigger, faster and stronger so we have to be able to adapt, otherwise we will get left behind. I have a plan that will hopefully suit the coaches and the team’s needs and help the areas that they want to improve, but it will definitely be a fast playing attack with, of course, lots and lots of tries.
What do you foresee as your biggest challenge facing you in Glendale?
Definitely my biggest challenge will be to leave my family behind in France. But, in terms of coaching, just being there, learning about the new environment and helping the coaching staff reach the goals that we set with the players during the pre-season will be my main challenge.
There have been some high profile rugby injuries lately that have had dramatic impacts on their teams. How does a coach handle the threat of losing a key player to injury?
This is definitely a concern, but if you have the right structure in place, starting from your academy, there should be no problem with putting players in the spotlight and having no affect on the team. It’s a team sport, not a one man game.
And how do you set that structure in place?
As a coach that is sole thing you are always trying to achieve – to get everyone on the same level. Ideally, your players will want to work hard by practicing their skills over and over again so it becomes a natural talent, and you build that depth from the academy right through to the pro team.
And, finally, on a less serious note – With a move to the U.S. on the horizon, what are your five essentials you won’t leave France without?
1. Ski jacket; 2. Skis; 3. Sunscreen; 4. My whistle; and 5. Some good hiking shoes for the hill runs the boys and I will be doing.