Our end of year award announcements continue with the AMNRL Coach of the Year and it will come as little surprise to learn that USA Tomahawks head coach Matt Elliott is the 2011 recipient.
The AMNRL award selection panel’s decision was based on what he was able to achieve for the US in a short space of time and with limited preparation.
In case you missed it, Elliott coached the USA to victory in the Rugby League World Cup Qualifiers to clinch a first ever berth for America at the World Cup.
Formerly the head coach with Penrith in the NRL, Elliott, who is about to start in a new role with the Sydney Roosters, drew up successful game plans that saw the Tomahawks not just win, but crush their opposition en route to their historic triumph.
“To receive the award is a completely unexpected honor,” Elliott tells WeAreRugby.
“Further, to be recognized for any positive influence on the development of rugby league in the USA is immensely humbling. Perhaps a greater accolade would be in the future; to be able to reflect on a small part of rugby league entrenching itself in the American sporting landscape.”
The coach says steering the USA’s national team was very satisfying.
“Coaching the Tomahawks in a successful WCQ series was firstly great fun largely due to the character, attitude and commitment of the playing group,” adds Elliott.
“The task was made even easier due to the assistance and support of Marcus Vassilakopoulos, Lee Addison, Jack Breen, Dr's Merrick Wetzler & Jack Kazanjian and Steve Johnson. On a personal note, the greatest satisfaction came with the recognition that the work of my great mate David Niu [AMNRL president] has manifested into success.”
Elliott made the successful transition from coaching in what’s widely regarded as the toughest league in the world, the NRL, to guiding the American national team through the qualifying series and says each role has its unique challenges.
“Hard to compare the two roles other than to say I enjoy both immensely,” he says. “With an NRL squad you get develop combinations over a long period in a rep environment is a matter of accessing the talents available and combining them into a unit in a small time frame.”
Will the USA get Elliott back in 2013 when the Tomahawks line up in Group D in Wales? The jury is still out on that one.
“2013? Not sure what I’m doing next week, so two years’ time is a challenge but I’d love to be involved in some capacity.”
WeAreRugby congratulates Matt Elliott on being named the 2011 Coach of the Year.