MARK Applegarth is ready to make a bang as a coach after being ‘bang average’ as a player.
Wakefield’s new boss makes his debut at Leeds today after being promoted to replace Willie Poching.
Ask him and he will say he was nothing special during his career on the pitch – neither were Arsene Wenger, Jose Mourinho and rugby league maestro Wayne Bennett.
And after being guided by several bosses over the years, qualified teacher Applegarth is ready to follow his fellow ‘steady Eddies’ out of the background.
Applegarth, Super League’s youngest boss at 38-years-old, said: “As a player I was bang average in ability, so I had to think about and understand why I was doing things.
“You tend to find a lot of those players are the ones who go into coaching. I’ve always thought about it and it’s always interested me.
“Some people are born and blessed with an outstanding talent, whether that’s physical prowess or amazing technical ability, they don’t understand why they’re doing it.
“That sort of person – whether it’s in football, rugby or whatever sport – sometimes can’t comprehend why others can’t do it as well as they can.
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“And after qualifying as a teacher, both teaching and coaching are things where you have to enjoy helping people learn and realise their potential.
“And understanding how people work is probably the best coaching qualification I ever did. Now I’m using that massively as a coach. You’re not just doing something for the sake of doing it.
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“Being number one is massively different. There’s a lot more focus on the man management side of things and when you’re assistant, I suppose you’re instilling someone else’s philosophies.
“I’d say mine is different to Willie’s but I’m not saying one’s right, one’s wrong. That’s just the nature of coaching and I’m happy with the people I’ve surrounded myself with, everyone’s added value.”
Listen to many and Applegarth’s main mission is keeping Wakefield in Super League – they are favourites to finish bottom.
After he was confirmed as coach, he was pretty much greeted with one word, with former player turned pundit Jon Wilkin basically asking, ‘Who?’
One of their main weapons, their Belle Vue stadium, is being redeveloped around them and several of their stars have left.
But while Jacob Miller, David Fifita, Bill Tupou and Tom Johnstone will not be there, others can come to the fore and propel them to safety.
Applegarth added: “I’ve not seen Jon’s interview, my wife did though and she told me about it. That’s his job, though, and I don’t think he meant it how a few people took it.
“He’s probably not far off the mark if I’m honest. Few people outside Wakefield Trinity probably did know who I am, they probably still don’t.
“And it’s everyone at the club’s job to change the perception of us. Our part is to make sure we’ve got a team that a Wakefield Trinity side should be.
“Big characters who were a big part of last year have left and they’re big misses but I’d like to think we’ve been smart in our recruitment and it’s an opportunity for other squad members to step up.
“People like Jordan Crowther, Max Jowitt, Matty Ashurst, Reece Lyne, Josh Bowden and players we’ve signed too. There’s still a lot of leadership and leaders in our team.
“They’re a big loss but I’m excited it‘s a new opportunity and new horizon for other players.”