Brad Fittler the coach of the Sydney Roosters 2008Why has Brad Fittler been so successful so early in his reign as Sydney Roosters coach writes Adam Sucliffe? When you look at Fittlers coaching record he has an enviable 80% winning ratio and what makes it even more impressive is the fact that Fittler inherited a losing side – consistently being beat by big amounts.

After taking over from Chris Anderson when things were a mess at Bondi, what has really changed since Brad Fittler took control? Ok, so there are some big name players on deck in 2008. The likes of Willie Mason, Mark O’Meley and the refreshed Anthony Minichiello are back to help – but Fittler had the team winning without these guys late last year.

The real surprise came last year when Brad Fittler was able to coach his men to victory over the virtually unbeatable Melbourne Storm. With only 3 defeats in 2008, the Storm were a hugely prized scalp and Freddy’s men were one of the few to pull it off.

Fittler has been around Rugby League and NRL circles for a long time, he would have had a basic idea of how the coaching things work and close friend Phil Gould was only a phone call away. Gould truly being one of the modern day coaching geniuses, certainly a handy mentor to have in your corner.

The Fittler-run Roosters have some nice little set plays in their game, their defence seems pretty sound and scrambles really well – but forget the technical aspects for a moment and think about the mental improvement in this side. Whoever took over this team as coach needed to bring this side from a dark place, they still knew how to play Rugby League but were in such a losing habit they were ready to be admitted to the mental asylum.

Fittler created the right environment.

Enter the cheeky, easy-going yet confident Fittler and you had a squad of players sucking up the positive energy as Freddy walked through the gates. Even before he drew on a clipboard, kicked a ball or ordered a drill – Freddy was able to get this guys out of the mental scrap heap and feeling like world beaters.

This effect isn’t new, it’s happened before and it generally happens when a coach is sacked mid season and a new coach comes in. Teams with a new coach get a quick shot in the arm and are capable of pulling off a few upsets in the first few weeks under a new boss, but with Fittler it’s different – he’s managed to keep the momentum rolling into a whole new season.

This snowball effect has been helped by smart recruitment and some strong early wins. The confidence in the Roosters is now bursting at the seams and guys like Mitchell Pearce and Braith Anasta look like world beaters behind those rampaging forwards. Forget Willie and Shrek for a moment, what about David Shillington? The big man has grown an extra leg and become one of the most damaging big runners in the game. His hits against Melbourne were earth shattering and he has quickly built a new reputation in 2008. It’s a similar story for Nate Myles, apart from crashing into Fittler’s new BMW in the carpark at Roosters training – Myles has everything else well and truly in order. He went missing for most of 2007, but he has found his confidence and ability again and is helping the team do big things.

The Sydney Roosters under Brad Fittler look certain to crack the Top 8 this year. They always say, to win a premiership you need the top players in the 7,6,9 and 1.  Riley Brown is quickly developing at hooker and they have everything else covered; all the time behind some good forwards and some impressive athletes in the backs.

The Roosters have a real chance this year, but ask Freddy about it and you will just get that cheeky smile. Little does he know, thats one of the most powerful aspects of his coaching ability. Confidence coaching beats all.

By ricky

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