Pat McCutcheon shifts from player to coach to help guide future Waratahs
Former Waratahs and Aussie 7s forward Pat McCutcheon has transitioned from player to coach at Moore Park and will mentor the Tahs Elite Development Program this year, just months after representing Australia at the Rio Olympics.
Following two stints with the Aussie 7s squad and 35 Super Rugby caps, the 29-year old decided to hang up his boots late last year to focus on the next stage of his rugby career.
“I’ve really enjoyed it so far but it’s been challenging. It’s definitely a lot different to playing. There’s a lot more admin and off-field work involved than I thought, I’ve got a new found respect for all the managers and administrators,” he told Rugby News.
“All the coaches at the Waratahs have been fantastic and have helped me a lot, you can always bounce ideas off them and I’m certainly learning plenty from them.”
McCutcheon said he’s still training occasionally with the Waratahs main squad, partly to make up numbers and stay fit but also to ensure he can drive the same principles and standards into the junior squads.
“We want all of our young development players to aspire to be Waratahs and the best way to do that is get them training like the senior guys early on.
“Obviously they’ve got work or study to focus on as well, but when they’re training we’re treating them as professional footballers and working hard to make them better players and men,” he added.
“I think that’s the part I will really enjoy, watching young guys develop as both a player and a person and that’s something we’re focussed on at the Waratahs, our program has a more holistic approach this year.”
While McCutcheon joked he still wasn’t sure what sort or how successful a coach he would be, he said he was looking forward to the start of the Super 20s tournament this weekend after training with the under 20s squad for several months.
“I think I’m able to relate to the players quite well. I was fortunate enough to play some top-level rugby and I gained a lot of experience from that and that’s something I’d like to pass on.
“I want to see guys play rugby and not be robots. I think too many players these days are over coached. Sure you need to give them shape, structure and some patterns, but I want to see guys play with their instincts and back themselves on the field.”
Following trial matches against Sydney Uni, Central West and Randwick, McCutcheon’s NSW U20s side begin their Super 20s campaign against the Western Force on Saturday.
“I think they’ll go well. They’ve worked hard over the last few months and have performed well in the trials so I’m looking forward to watching them play.
“As I said before, I’d like to see them use their instincts and show a point of difference on the field. So far, I like the look of Justin Cooper in the forwards. He’s a quiet guy that does a lot of work and in the backs, James Ramm is only 19 and he’s been brilliant on the wing for us in the trials.”
In scary news for Sydney lower grade players, McCutcheon also admitted he’s spoken to former Rebel and Sydney Uni coach Tim Davidson about having a run together in fourth grade this season.
“We’ve spoken about getting some of our mates together and having a run but we’ll have to see how things go this year.”