Part 2 of an Interview with Matthew Elliott
Continuing our exclusive interview with USA Tomahawks head coach Matthew Elliott, in Part 2 we get his thoughts on the team’s roster, as well as how he plans to motivate the players leading up to the Rugby League World Cup qualifying series later this year.
Coach Elliott has been appointed to take charge of the US national team for the crucial RLWCQ against South Africa and Jamaica in October.
AMNRL: Will you want to include guys from the NRL or Engage Super League who're eligible?
Elliott: Firstly I would like to see players from the domestic competition given priority. Further to that if there are eligible players of elite quality available their inclusion would enhance the performance of other team members.
Again I reinforce that I don't feel best placed to direct selection policy as I have limited access to available playing stocks and further to that I have less of an idea of the quality of the opposition in the tournament.
Elliott: I guess see the above answer.
AMNRL: The US has never made it to a RLWC so how motivated are you to make it happen this time?
Elliott: My level of motivation is not the primary issue here. It’s how inspired the playing squad is to rise to the challenge presented by our opponents and the quality of the preparations I can provide to allow a collective focus of energy. I can share that I'm not doing this for any other reason than to support the Tomahawks achieve new success and honor the fantastic work done by those who are committed to the sport I love in the challenging and competitive environment in USA.
Although he didn’t know it at the time, Elliott’s American connection can be traced back to the 1990s when he played for the St George Dragons in the then Sydney Premiership.
In those days he was a teammate of David Niu, who has since gone on to become president of the American National Rugby League and the two have remained good friends ever since.
Niu was instrumental in persuading Elliott to sign on again in February for the Tomahawks’ RLWCQ campaign.
“He was a very smart player and it was obvious even during our playing days he would be a good coach,” says Niu. “That has been highlighted through his success at Bradford in SLE, then Canberra and now at Penrith in the NRL.
“During his time as a head coach at Bradford, Matty and his coaching staff spent some time observing pro sports systems in the USA, which led to his interest in helping with the Tomahawks program. Everyone at the AMNRL is excited that he is with us and I am certain the Tomahawks program will continue to move forward under his guidance.”
The pivotal RLWCQ series will be played out in Philadelphia:
Game 1 – USA v South Africa (October 15, 2011)
Game 2 – South Africa v Jamaica (October 19, 2011)
Game 3 – USA v Jamaica (October 23, 2011)