Trent Robinson's advice for new Swifts coach
Ask Briony Akle about her memories of working alongside Sydney Roosters coach Trent Robinson and her face lights up.
"We used to sit back over there in that corner a long time ago," she says, pointing to a desk at the Sydney Roosters head office.
The newly appointed NSW Swifts coach has asked Robinson to be her "non-netball" mentor for the upcoming season which begins in April.
Akle met Robinson during her time as a community relations manager for the Roosters in 2010. Then, Robinson was an assistant coach for the club.
"I came down from Newcastle in 2009 and Briony was here. We got along straight away," Robinson said.
"We were all pretty close here at the Roosters building, we'd always have a laugh. Briony is easy to get along with, is bright and she's got a lot of stories."
Akle, a former NSW Institute of Sport head coach, is set to share a similar introduction to coaching that Robinson faced when he inherited the Roosters after they had won only eight games in 2012.
Akle takes over a side which managed three wins in the inaugural Super Netball season.
Robinson has no doubt Akle has what it takes to improve the Swifts.
"The advice I've given Briony is you've got do your research on your club before you even start and I think she's got her own unique style. The job doesn't mould itself to you, you've got to mould yourself to the job," he said.
"You also can't take your time. You make your impact early as far as the way you want to get your principles in the team and I think that's really important for Briony – to get her principles across and stamp her style on the Swifts."
A coach well known for being close to his players is also quick to cite the most important key to winning.
"The players are still the most important. You need to really understand your players during that time as well."
So, what traits does Akle admire most from her long-time friend?
"What impressed me working here when Trent came in as head coach was how engaging he was with the players," Akle said.
"He was big on the team acting professional on and off the field. As soon as I got my coaching role at the Swifts, I immediately thought of Trent and how he could help."
While Akle will no doubt benefit from Robinson's experiences, his own induction into the world of head coach wasn't as welcoming.
"I didn't have anyone mentoring me. I was overseas for a couple of years then came back into it, so I didn't really have the contacts outside of my own sport," he said.
"When it comes to your own sport, you're usually left to your own devices because people are trying to get where you've got to, it's competitive.
"Over the time, I've had to go and do my own research outside of my own sport to try and develop my skills. I think going overseas helps, embed yourself in either a team or a club and observe, I think that's important."
The premiership-winning coach also strongly believes Akle needs to do what she can to avoid netball consuming her 24/7. His outlet? Playing NFL Fantasy.
"I've always said you narrow your focus when you become a head coach. Through my interests as a coach who loves the NFL, I like watching it and so do quite a few of the players here as well.
"We've enjoyed the banter and the joy that goes with drafting your own team then playing against each other every week, said Robinson, who sits in second place in his social fantasy league."
So, will we be seeing any more cross promotion of the two sports?
"I'd love to get Trent down to Netball Central in Homebush for him to see how hard we train. There's this perception out there that netball is a girly sport, I'd love to get him out there on the court and test his skills!" Akle says, laughing.
Provided Robinson does indeed pay his former colleague a visit, what position does Akle think would suit him best?
"Well, she definitely wouldn't have said Goal Attack," he replied bemused.