Monday, June 5, 2017

Nose to the Stone at Eagles Camp

By Ryan Trost

Singular focus and the job at hand have taken top priority as the Eagles prepare for their summer test series against Ireland, Georgia and Canada. Despite any long term questions regarding the soon to be vacated Head Coaching position, Job One is the only reported focus from the top on down.

Regarding his announced departure from the team at the end of the series, current HC John Mitchell stated, “It was properly managed in terms of its announcements. Both parties were fully involved and all were communicated with. Everyone’s been very professional about the situation. It’s just, ‘Get on with the job at hand’, because I’m still fully immersed in the program.”

Appearances indicate that players and staff are on the same page with their focus, which may come as some comfort to fans feeling less sure of the program’s stability just three weeks from RWC qualifiers.

However, it is also clear that a choice was made to not formally address the issue with the squad. “It hasn’t been brought up at all. It’s really got nothing to do with anyone else, but myself,” said Mitchell.

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Whether this method of operation works or not, only time will tell. It is a measured gamble, with wide risk – reward variations to consider. Professionalism certainly requires an ability to accept change, avoid distraction and overcome disruption. Team culture however, also requires a certain amount of relationship trust.

Mitchell has been a vocal proponent for maintaining relationships as part of the Eagles’ remote management initiatives throughout his tenure and while it may seem contradictory on the surface, his approach to this camp does have its reason.

“In camps,” he said, “when we’ve got a lot of work to do in order to get our wheels up in the way that we train, I’m quite Meeting adverse. I’d rather have conversations and do the work, because when we get into our week we test process.”

“I really don’t see why people would concern themselves with it,” Mitchell concluded. “People do move on, and people stay on as well. It’s not an issue.”

Some will certainly disagree with the course of action. It has its merits though and the fact of the matter remains; John Mitchell is steering and the all-important RWC Qualifiers are approaching, with Ireland and Georgia first on the horizon.
With Mitchell’s international coaching legacy still vested in the results of this series, the goals and metrics he and his staff established over his year and half with the team are also still in place. The first three days of camp have been about judging where the athletes are in relation to those objectives.

The rest of camp will now be about upping the athletes’ ability to deal with the challenges Ireland et al. will offer.

“We look to prepare and train above the opposition, so it really comes down to our ability to get the speed of the game and be able to tolerate the most demanding period of the game, which will certainly come from an international side that’s ranked #3 in the world,” said Mitchell.

“It’s a matter of creating a wicked process (in training)… Clearly there will come a point in that performance where it will ask serious questions of both teams and obviously the team that’s better prepared for the speed of the game is generally able to deal with it.”

With the Irish test serving as a warm-up for the qualifiers, fans can reasonably expect to see the strongest possible side named throughout the series.

Five athletes had yet to report to camp on the weekend, due to club commitments (Nate Brakeley, Marcel Brache, Todd Clever, James Hilterbrand and Peter Malcolm), so they may be behind the eight-ball for Ireland, according to Mitchell. Though, they all have recent camp experience and he expects them to adapt quickly.

“We’ve got some premeditated selections in mind and a plan, but clearly we’ll see who comes up in the next two days in terms of who’s on target and who’s not on target,” Mitchell continued.

“We’re not premeditating all our focus just on RWC qualifiers. We’re building towards that. We’ll independently deal with Ireland first and then we’ll go on to the next one.”

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