Former St Brendan's College player Ben Hunt is expected to play in this weekend's NRL Grand Final for the Brisbane Broncos.
Former St Brendan's College player Ben Hunt is expected to play in this weekend's NRL Grand Final for the Brisbane Broncos. Bradley Kanaris

Four CQ players in NRL Grand Final, mentored by Hansen

IT'S AN all-Queensland NRL Grand Final and four players who will no doubt star on the greatest stage of all on Sunday are former St Brendan's players, Ben Hunt and Corey Oates (Broncos) with Matt Scott and Jake Granville (Cowboys). Guy Williams talks to St Brendan's First XIII coach Terry Hansen who mentored them all, after securing his 10th consecutive Rockhampton Secondary Schools premiership recently.

 

How does this year's team stack up to some of the sides you've coached over your 14 years in the role?

It was good to win 10 in a row. Lost one in 2005 by two points. I started in 2002 so that will be 13 out of 14. It's pretty hard to compare teams but this year's team was a good side. We had no superstars - we didn't have a Ben Hunt, Matty Scott or Jake Granville, but at the end of the day they were a strong side.

Ben, Matt and Jake are three of the best in the NRL. Is there anyone in this year's side who could follow in their footsteps?

Harry Grant has got some footy in him. There's some chance that he will go to the next level. You can't predict that but if I was going to pick anyone who could make it to the top, it would be him. He was really good.

When you first started coaching the First XIII how did you change things?

My very first year I dropped three players who were so-called superstars. I had to do it because they were like the monkeys running the zoo. If you're going to be successful you can't have that. I actually called a gym session and one bloke, who thought he was very, very good, didn't turn up. I ran into him later and I said, 'Where were you?'. He said, 'I prioritised,' and I said, 'Oh, did you?' I didn't say a word more about it. When you picked the team you put them up on the noticeboard, so a couple of weeks later I put the team up and, of course, he wasn't in it. I'll never forget the time he came and saw me. He said, 'Hanso, I'm not in the team - what's going on?' I said, 'Mate, I prioritised.'

What's your focus at training?

We don't do a lot of attack. I've been in the game a long time and I'd probably spend three quarters of my sessions on defence. At the end of the day I've been at too many football clubs where they spent too much time working on a big play and then game day comes and they might have one go at that play - and it fails. I just try and keep it simple, rugby league isn't that hard a game.

What keeps you in the job?

I love seeing the kids succeed. I'm a great believer that experience turns boys into men. I like that side of it. I like to see them grow and see how they handle it all.

Who's the best player you've coached?

It's a tough one. I've had some really good players. Some of the good players I've coached didn't actually go on (and play in the NRL). I'd have to think the most talented player I coached would be Danny Bampton. But then I've had blokes like Ben Hunt, Matt Scott, Kurt Mann - there's been a lot of really good ones. I'd really hate to say who the best was and who wasn't. It's just such a fine line. They all had their special qualities that they brought to the table.

Probably the coolest player I ever coached was Ben Hunt. Nothing ever fazed him. He will run out for the NRL grand final and think nothing of it. I don't know how he does it but he's a pretty cool customer.

Was there a standout year?

Probably 2006 was the team. Mackillop College had five or six Queensland players in their team that year and thought they were going to win, but I wasn't worried. We had Ben Hunt, Dave Taylor, Ben Ridge, Sammy Joe, the list went on so it didn't matter who they had. That was probably the most dominant side. That was the year we got robbed, beaten 14-10 in a state Nutri-Grain Cup final to Keebra Park. Nathan Barraclough chipped over and regathered and was heading under the posts and they called him offside. That's just about the best call I've seen (laughs).

Who's the best character you've coached?

I've had a few characters. Dave Taylor was a real character. I'm not going to tell you why. Ben Hunt was a character as well. I'll say this, one of the best humans I've ever met was Matty Scott. He's just a great bloke. Always has been. He was an OP 4 front rower, which is probably a surprise to some people. He was very smart. Mick Esdale is another character for you. Mick was the hooker in 2002, the same year as Matty Scott and my whole front row got an OP five and under. I used to say, if your front row had an OP under 5 you're going alright.



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