Not often can a superstar of the highest calibre translate his prowess from the playing field to the coaching arena.
But Kyabram’s Paul Newman, who has a coaching record of 42-0, displayed his nous with the board rather than the ball (in the senior decider at least) yesterday to lead his charges to the promised land of back-to-back undefeated seasons.
Moves such as backing his captain Josh Vick to kick against the breeze after winning the toss, using a possibly underdone Sam Sheldon as a loose man in defence, keeping gun Lachie Smith down the scoring end of the ground, leaving Jordan Williams at the coalface for the whole clash and simply making the right decision on who to choose to shut down Shepparton’s stars had Newman putting on a coaching clinic from siren-to-siren.
But if you ask the humble legend, his work finished long before the first bounce.
‘‘I was finding it hard over the last couple of days just knowing that I wasn’t going to be able to impact the game out on the field. The nerves were through the roof and the feeling I’ve got now is honestly just relief,’’ Newman said.
‘‘I thought Sam Sheldon was fantastic across half-back, it’s just nice to see him get through a grand final, win one and be able to enjoy it. He missed last year with a hammy, been knocked out in a couple and we’ll look forward to enjoying this one with him.
‘‘With the wind the way it was, we just thought we’d play him (Smith) at one end, he’s our best player and the best player in the competition, so why not use him at both ends (forward and back).’’
The conditions dictated a tough, hard style of football from the Bombers, and Newman said all his troops deserved the spoils of victory after battling well.
‘‘You’re never relying on the wind, obviously your effort still needs to be there, but we knew at three-quarter-time that if we played somewhere near our best football we’d put the game away and it was good that the boys had a bit of party time at the end,’’ he said.
‘‘All the boys obviously deserve the success that they get, their loyalty to the football club and to their mates just turning up year after year, they deserve it all and that’s why they do stick around because we put ourselves in the scenario where we aim to play finals footy and go deep into finals.’’
Holding onto players in country football’s mercenary era can be tough, but Newman has a simple formula.
‘‘As a football club when it comes to recruiting and what not, that (sustained success) is the main selling point,’’ he said.
‘‘Obviously with salary caps and all that coming in now, guys are obviously going to drop dollars as years go on, but if you can guarantee them a real crack at it then that’s what it’s all about.’’
Newman finished the day with two premiership medals after pulling on the boots in the reserves and he said the whole club would enjoy the triumphant end to this campaign for a while yet.
‘‘I don’t know whether I even impacted that game, it was tough work,’’ he said.
‘‘But obviously it was a fantastic day for the club with the twos and the seniors winning and the A-grade netballers too, so we’re going to enjoy this over the next couple of days, this is why we play.’’