Simon Cron is hoping valuable lessons learned under the guidance of legendary All Blacks coach Steve Hansen will take the Western Force to Super Rugby Pacific success.
Cron was previously head coach at Japanese Rugby League One outfit Toyota Verblitz where fellow New Zealander Hansen worked in an advisory and mentorship capacity.
After a four year spell at the club, Cron has now taken up the mantle at the Force from previous coach Tim Sampson.
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It’s the first season Cron has led a Super Rugby side, although he was the Waratahs assistant coach between 2017-19.
In the time since, he’s learned plenty from Hansen who had a remarkable 86.9 per cent win record with the All Blacks and was instrumental in the successful 2011 and 2015 Rugby World Cup campaigns.
So what will Cron take from Hansen and apply to the Force?
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“One of them is coaching players to stay present, so stay in the moment in big moments and games so that they don’t end up reacting to scoreboard or time,” Cron told Wide World of Sports.
“And then the other one is just around structures and making sure that we put the structures around the team for them to be the most successful they can be by Saturday.
“There’s a lot of planning that goes into that.”
The former Junior Wallabies coach said he was never surprised by Hansen’s success.
A lot of the philosophies Hansen applied at the All Blacks are what Cron hopes to implement at the Force.
“Steve is phenomenal around team culture and how to grow and build a team culture,” said Cron.
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“He’s also got a really good insight into the development of coaches, so that was a big appeal for me to go across and have an opportunity to work with him and obviously as the head coach over there.
“I had a lot of areas to keep building between company and team, it’s quite a different beast. He was really helpful in terms of all of that. So Steve talks a lot about skill set mindset structure and three areas I focus on too. So it was really enjoyable.
“Even he acknowledges the different things that create success, He talks about the environment that created, he talks about the assistant coaches, he talks about recruitment, retention and all that stuff. There’s a lot that goes into it.”
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The Force were a staple of Super Rugby through its various guises between 2006-17.
The club was then dropped from Super Rugby briefly before being revived for 2020.
Outside of the COVID-19 pandemic, when the competition was domestic, the Force have never qualified for the Super Rugby playoffs.
Cron hopes to become the first coach in seven to break that drought.
He says his time under Hansen helped him build resilience, which puts he and the team in good stead for the 2023 season, kicking off on February 24.
“He’s great because you question everything and we had some really good discussions and for me it’s about building long-term resilience and one of those is work-life balance, which he was hard on me about and it’s still an area of work on,” Cron said.
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“Coaching is a different beast to playing, The players who move in to coach and get a bit of shock about the amount of hours you’ve got to do to make the team successful.
“There is a balance to that. You don’t want to be divorced, you’ve got to try and find somewhere in the middle.”
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