Coaching experience no edge: Cartwright - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Coaching experience no edge: Cartwright

By Wayne Heming 22/09/2010 04:49:12 PM Comments (0)

Gold Coast coach John Cartwright claims criticisms he is too inexperienced and his players too old are the very reason the Titans can go all the way and claim a first NRL premiership for the holiday strip.

Cartwright is a coaching minnow in comparison to his remaining finals rivals, the former Penrith premiership-winning backrower taking charge for the 100th time in Friday night's preliminary final against the Brian Smith-coached Sydney Roosters.

The Suncorp Stadium match will be No.552 for Smith, while Wests Tigers mentor Tim Sheens already has 618 games under his belt and his combatant in Saturday night's other grand final qualifier Wayne Bennett has coached 605 top grade games - that trio combining for a whopping 1,774 matches.

The representative gap is also significant, Cartwright's resume showing two City Origin stints which stacks up well with Smith's two matches in charge of Country Origin.

But Bennett has coached Queensland 22 times and Australia 16 and won six NRL premierships with Brisbane and a Queensland premiership with Brisbane Souths in 1985.

Sheens has coach NSW three times, the Kangaroos in six Tests and won four premierships with Canberra and Wests Tigers.

"Coaches who think it comes down to them winning these games are driven by ego or full of themselves, one or the other," Cartwright said of the discrepancies.

"Your players do it for you and I'm confident our boys will be as prepared as they possibly can be.

"Those guys have been coaching for a long time and they haven't won every game.

"I'm not buying into it other than to say I don't think they have any advantage in that area."

While coaches with less experience have won premierships in the past, Cartwright's side would have to re-write the record books as the oldest team in history to win a title with an average age 28 years and 39 days.

Scott Prince (30), Mat Rogers (33), Luke Bailey (30), Preston Campbell (33), Brad Meyers (30) and Nathan Friend (29) may be at the back end of their careers, but Cartwright says their wealth of experience under pressure is a bonus.

Add the intimidation of NSW Origin representative Greg Bird and the Titans have what is required between the ears as well as the talent to land the Gold Coast's first premiership.

"There's a lot of big game experience there and they know what works for them, I can't take any responsibility for that," said Cartwright.

"Those players are a big reason why we're so relaxed, we've had to win from all sorts of situations and you can't win when you're down if you don't have composure and experience.

"Half a dozen times I can remember we've been down by 12 or more points and we've come back to win and won easily on occasions.

"Knowing that they're capable of that definitely makes you feel comfortable at any stage through the game."

Making split second decisions under pressure with the game on the line is something the Titans have been very good at all season.

"It takes a lot of different characters to make a good football team," said Cartwright who played 184 games for Penrith, winning a premiership in 1991.

"Experience is important. The addition of a player like Birdy (Greg Bird) certainly gives us an x-factor there.

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