It’s fair to say Sam Williams wasn’t the quickest around the park on Sunday as he captain-coached the Queanbeyan Kangaroos to the Canberra Raiders Cup premiership, but he appeared to have all the time in the world as he played a major role in guiding his side to a 34-6 victory over the Tuggeranong Bushrangers at Seiffert Oval.
The Kangaroos only lost two games in the lead-up to the grand final, both to the Bushrangers. The most recent loss was 18-13 in the major semi, two weeks before the decider.
On the field, Williams, who played 83 NRL games in two stints with the Raiders and a season with the Dragons, provided his younger teammates with a sense of calmness. It belied the pressure he was under.
“I was probably more nervous than usual,” says Sam.
“It was a big game, and there was the extra responsibility of coaching the team as well as playing. It is different than when you are just playing without the coaching responsibilities where you can focus on yourself.”
His ability to sum up a situation quickly and respond was there for all to see on Sunday.
I have witnessed it first-hand working with Sam in his role as a sideline eye for ABC radio this season in our coverage of the NRL.
This is why I believe he will make the grade as a coach in the NRL.
And it’s something he really revels in.
“I love coaching. I really enjoy seeing young players develop, and being able to get the best out of players is incredibly rewarding,” he explains.
“If an opportunity to coach at the NRL level came up, I’d definitely be interested, but it has to fit in with our young family. My family comes first in any decision.”
For the moment, Sam is committed to the Kangaroos for the 2024 Canberra Raiders Cup as he attempts to guide the club to back-to-back premierships.
“I am passionate about this club. This season, we had a great mix of older and younger players. I am looking forward to going around with the Roos next season.”
I have seen many brilliant NRL players who have been unable to transfer their on-field ability to game analysis.
Perhaps those coaches that get the best out of players and possess the ability to analyse and put a game plan into practice are those who had to battle and think on their feet to gain an advantage over bigger, more talented players.
Whatever the reason, Sam Williams has proven that he can coach while still managing to play the game that he loves.