In line with its adoption of a new pathway for developing and growing the game in the USA, the American National Rugby League has made another significant appointment.
Lee Addison has been named AMNRL director of coaching. He has signed on through the 2013 Rugby League World Cup and is due to officially start in the role after Christmas.
Addison brings a wealth of coaching pedigree to the job. He is an assistant coach with the USA Tomahawks having worked with head coach Matt Elliott during the USA’s successful run through the World Cup Qualifiers in October.
He is currently based in Sydney and coaches the Wollongong Carlton League club, as well as being head coach at St Gregory’s College. Since arriving in Australia in 2007, Addison has worked at the top level as a junior head coach with NRL teams Penrith and Manly.
He also was a technical assistant to Ireland in the 2008 Rugby League World Cup and prior to that was the head coach of England Students and the England Lionhearts amateur team.
Addison says his interest in coaching the Tomahawks came about through his association with Elliott at Penrith.
“Matt is an important coaching mentor to me,” he tells WeAreRugby. “I have always admired his coaching from afar, from his days at Bradford and Canberra Raiders and, when I finally met him in 2009, I joined him at Penrith Panthers and he has had a massive influence on my coaching career and life in general. He invited me to join him for the World Cup Qualifiers in October and everything has followed on from there.”
Addison says his role with the AMNRL will be to streamline the practices of coaches working in the USA to get them to focus on some core attributes that will benefit American Rugby League as a whole.
“I will be sending over resources from Australia on a regular basis which is ideal because Australia is the strongest RL playing nation in the world,” continues Addison. “It is also important that our coaching practices in the USA are internationally recognized so I have a regular briefing with the New South Wales Rugby League.
“I will also be over to the States periodically to help deliver courses and coaching in general. My focus will be from juniors up to top grade. It is a long term project as far as I am concerned.
“At the same time, we have players in Australia, France and England so we need to keep them all on the same page as much as possible. Because Matty is tied up at the [Sydney] Roosters, I will help keep in touch with the team all around the world regarding strength, fitness and skill levels and helping them if they need it.
“Myself and Steve Johnson [AMNRL football development manager] are trying to get as many of the current Tomahawks to play together in Australia on a regular basis too.”
Addison says he has clearly defined strategies that are aimed at benefitting the AMNRL and Tomahawks.
“I want the head coach of USA Tomahawks to come into camp for the few days he has before a big international game, to be armed with as much knowledge as possible about the players at his disposal because the coaching director (me) has provided him with detailed breakdowns,” he adds.
“I also want that head coach to have players with good skill set, fitness and strength levels, so that he can just focus on getting them to play well together and play as a group. I want the players to have a collective understanding of what they need to be doing away from Tomahawks camps to achieve at the highest level.
“I also want to feed down to all those playing league in the USA. I want players and coaches all around the States using common terminology and having a good base to work from and clear goals to aim for. If each coach in the States can commit say, at least 20 minutes per session to elements of what I am calling at this stage a "National Curriculum" for Rugby League in the States, then I will be happy.”