In the background of a controversial offseason, the Wests Tigers promoted Paul Stringer to head coach for the 2016 NSW Cup season.
Handed the reins of readying the next batch of NRL stars, the task has been made more difficult amidst a preseason full of drama and questions.
However, Stringer pays no attention to the rolling headlines and stories as to who will or won’t be playing in the NSW Cup side this season.
“It’s not been a distraction at all for me,” Stringer told NSWRL.com.au.
“That’s my role: my role is to develop those younger kids coming through and those fringe players that aren’t quite in the 17 and to get them up and ready to play NRL at any stage they’re called upon.”
While the move may not gain much publicity, it’s a role Stringer understands is essential following his year as an assistant to under-20s mentor Brett Kimmorley.
With the benefit of already playing a large role in the development of a number of talented youngsters rising through Holden Cup, Stringer continues to oversee their rise to the NRL ranks.
“Last season was a bit of a learning curve under [Kimmorley],” Stringer said.
“I learnt a few things from him and now that I’ve been with the club for 12 months, I know how the club operates, know a few of the kids that played in the -20s and helped them progress and turn them into first-graders one day.
“Ultimately that’s my job – not to win a NSW Cup but to churn out as many NRL players as I can.”
Helping reach the semi finals in the under-20s competition last season, Stringer takes over a NSW Cup that disappointingly missed the top eight in 2015. While Stringer has one eye on the results column, his priorities lay elsewhere – even though he is already making a no-excuse policy when it comes to team performance.
“In the end it’s wins and losses but preparing and turning them into first-graders is more important in my eyes,” Stringer said.
“Coaching is based on win-loss record in the long run.
“However, if you have players going up and down all the time it’s probably harder to get some cohesion within the 17. But if I’m preparing the guys well and we’re going out on the field every week, the whole club plays the same style of football and know the same calls, then it shouldn’t matter what grade you’re playing in.”
“Whether -20s, NSW Cup or NRL – you should be able to slide into one of those sides and know all the calls and what we’re about to jump on the same wavelength as everyone else.”