HE once helped sink the British and Irish Lions but now former All Black Grant Batty is hoping to help the Quirindi variety roar again.
The former winger will co-coach the Lions this season with Matt Scanlon.
Scanlon took over the coaching duties mid-season last season and will continue this season as the forwards coach.
That will be great for Batty, who concedes it will be a real learning curve for him.
“This is the first time I’ve coached country rugby for 40 years,” Batty said.
“It’s very different to what I’ve experienced before.”
The diminuitive winger was capped 56 times for the All Blacks between 1972 and 1977.
Injury curtailed his career, with Battty retiring after scoring the match-winning try in the First Test of the 1977 Lions series.
Only 25 and still wanting to be involved in rugby, he turned to coaching.
He coached at club and provincial level (with Bay of Plenty) in New Zealand before moving to Australia in 1987.
Since then he’s coached on the Sunshine Coast, at Easts in Brisbane and the Gold Coast Breakers.
He was also the backs coach at Queensland for three years, coached the Australian U19s, and coached in Japan with Yamaha Jubilo.
“The reason we live here is Jane, our daughter, married a local farmer,” Batty said.
They wanted to be closer to the grandkids, and moved down about 12 months ago.
“I felt that I might be able to make some small contribution,” he said about taking on the coaching role.
He’s seen a bit of the Lions over the years on trips down to see Jane.
The Lions had a bit of a rocky year last year and Batty is realistic about the job in front of him.
“Trying to change the fortunes of a team takes time,” he said.
He’s just hoping they improve from the start of the year to the end of the year.
And, importantly, enjoy it.
“It needs to be a bit of fun,” he said.
“An underlying philosophy of mine is if your only goal is winning, nine of us (in Central North competition) are going to be disappointed.”
“There have to be reasons to play the game other than winning, things like improvement and enjoyment.”
He hasn’t put a lot of focus on fitness training per se in the pre-season.
“Rugby fitness is very specific,” he said.
“There are a lot of things you do in rugby you only do in rugby.”
“The idea is when we train, everything we do is rugby-related.”
“They’re getting fit doing things they’ll do on a rugby field.”
He is also an advocate for playing attacking rugby.
“I want to see them ball in hand,” he said.
“If you have the ball it’s difficult for the opposition to score.”
Talking to him it’s clear Batty loves rugby.
“This is my 56th year of being in rugby,” he said.
The Lions train Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7pm and any players interested are welcome to come along.