Former Panthers NRL coach Steve Georgallis has just about seen it all in his time in rugby league – he played 229 top-grade games in Australia and England, and represented Greece before going on to mentor at Penrith, Wests Tigers and Manly.
After four years engulfed in drama as an assistant at Wests Tigers and Manly, Georgallis is welcoming a more stable environment, returning to where he was interim coach for the Panthers' NRL side in 2011.
The past four years of coaching has been a revealing experience for Georgallis who acknowledges there’s a lot more to leading a team than just performances on field.
“[It’s] politics – sometimes as an assistant coach you don’t have much of a say,” Georgallis said. “Both clubs (Wests Tigers and Manly) sacked their coach. ‘Tooves’ (Geoff Toovey) was hard done by last season. It’s difficult when you’re not the master of your own destiny.
“But really the biggest thing I picked up in coaching is it’s the same basics for attack and defence but learning to do certain things or drills differently with variations.”
In his time as interim coach following the resignation of Matthew Elliot in 2011, Georgallis recorded four wins from 11 matches.
It’s only been two weeks, but Georgallis is appreciating the familiar surroundings at Penrith as the Panthers’ new VB NSW Cup coach.
“The last two clubs I was at had a lot of upheaval,” Georgallis said. “Here, it’s very settled and calm. ‘Gus’ (General Manager Phil Gould) is here and managing things which is really good and keeping things on direction.
“I’ve been away for four years but everyone’s been very welcoming. I didn’t want to leave in leave in the first place.”
Georgallis is thrilled at the prospect of taking the reigns as head coach of the VB NSW Cup side in 2016, after he led the Panthers’ Under-20s side to the grand final in 2008.
“It’s good to be head coach again because you get to take on more control than as an assistant coach,” Georgallis, 47, said.
“In the past four years, as an assistant coach it feels like I’ve been a bit ‘out of sight, out of mind’. Becoming head coach of the Panthers' NSW Cup side, it’s another stepping stone to becoming a first-grade coach in the NRL.”
After capturing the 2015 NYC and 2014 VB NSW Cup premierships, the Panthers are hungry to continue their success and healthy development of future players to break into first grade.
“The goal each season is to perform to your best, and the winning will follow from that,” Georgallis said.
“If you have a goal to play at your best and develop players for the NRL, then the wins will come from that. Our role is to prepare the players for first grade. If we do that, the rest will take care of itself.”