Premier Rugby: Prodigal son Carl Marshall returns to Wests to take on dream coaching role

By Finn Morton; Photo – QRU Media/Brendan Hertel

There will be a new coach at the helm of the Premier Grade setup at Sylvan Road in 2020 with former Wests player and colts coach Carl Marshall ready to help his new squad realise their finals potential.

Marshall last coached at Premier Grade level in 2018 when he took charge of Brothers, but the opportunity to return to a head coaching role after a year is especially exciting with Wests being a club he has a history with.

Last season Wests were in the mix for a finals spot but after losing to UQ, Jeeps and Easts, they couldn’t salvage a place in the playoffs despite finishing their campaign with two wins.

But with a young group, he wants his side to learn from last year’s heartbreak and build into a more professional outfit.

“I am really excited and relishing the opportunity to coach back at Wests. The head coach role gives me a unique opportunity to work with the staff here to provide a stimulating environment where players can unleash their playing potential and achieve their career aspirations,” said Marshall.

“It has been a great time for the club off the field with the construction of the Sci-Fleet Stadium and on the field there has been some promising results which we want to build on.

“As a former player and coach, returning to Sylvan Road definitely feels right and it’s always been one of my ambitions to coach the Premier Grade team at the club.”

After a disappointing back-end to last season, it’d be easy to point the blame at the squad’s lack of experience.

But instead coach Marshall will work alongside specialist coaches to help create an invigorating culture that players want to be part of.

“Those narrow losses could be put down to some young and inexperienced players, but I also think there may be some strategies that could be employed in order to ice the games that they weren’t able to win  last year.

“As head coach, the focus has and will be on developing a professional approach within the constraints of club rugby. The players and coaches have co-constructed our standards of performance which are day to day behaviours that exhibit our agreed values of learning, team first and hard work.

“Our Athletic Performance coaches Jono Daniher and Matt Barnes are using state of the art GPS tracking equipment so we can actively record, monitor and evaluate our training loads so that optimal training programs can be prescribed.

“We’ve also held numerous internal coach education sessions where sharing of ideas has been encouraged and the addition of Dan Cooper as a mental skills coach and mentor has proved invaluable and demonstrates our ongoing commitment to learning.”

Marshall hasn’t been a Premier Grade Head Coach since 2018 with Brothers, in a year where they uncharacteristically finished seventh.

But as the old sports adage goes, you learn more from your losses than your wins, and Marshall is hoping to make the most of his last Premier Grade experience with Wests on the brink of finals.

“The main concept I have learnt from my previous head coaching role is the need to understand and promote what the big picture is for the team within the wider club framework.

“Central to this is the need to be an active leader that focuses on building an emotional tie between the organisation and its members by developing trust, identity and a sense of belonging.

“The communication and support that I have received from Graham Brown the President and Brent Matchett the Director of Rugby, has been outstanding.

“We have not been afraid to speak the truth to each other no matter how uncomfortable.”