Honesty the best policy

MATT Diskin’s interview honesty which touched a chord with Chris Hamilton was also evident when the former Batley boss faced the media.

The message that came through loud and clear was that his first head coach job’s with the Bulldogs was no bed of roses or, as Matt himself called it, “a baptism of fire.”

He talked of his mistakes, the lessons he learned, the difficulties he had in moving from a full-time environment with Leeds Rhinos and Bradford Bulls to part-time rugby at Batley.

In more than 50 years of attending this type of media briefing, I don’t think I’ve ever previously come across an incoming coach who spoke so honestly, so passionately and with so much desire to come up to expectations, writes ROGER HALSTEAD.

This 37-year-old father of five, not the first top-drawer hooker to come out of Dewsbury, made the point that he was fortunate to be in a position in which he didn’t have to rely on a wage from rugby.

It was, he said, a passion rather than a job — a passion that extends beyond his commitment to Championship rugby and still involves him in the community game in his native Heavy Woollen district.

He’s been active there since he first turned up at the Dewsbury Moor club when he was eight. By the time he was 16 he had signed for Leeds Rhinos and was coaching – yes, coaching at 16 – in his local community.

Apart from a brief reference to his most memorable year – 2004 — there was no mention at the Vestacare Stadium briefing of his 300 and more Super League games, his Grand Final appearances or his pride when he represented Great Britain.

‘Honesty’ was the key word . . . he had no hesitation, for example, in confirming that it wasn’t his decision to leave Batley and that when he was told he wasn’t to be offered a new deal he was ‘disappointed’.

Mistakes ? One, he said, was to attempt to rush in changes in the Bulldogs’ style of play and he realised now that it should have been a much more gradual project.

“I’m quite passionate about attractive, free-flowing football,” he said, “but I tried to make the changes all at once and I realise now you can’t do that.

“Scott (Naylor) had a tough, disciplined, well-organised team here and it will be my job to build on that and to establish Oldham as a Championship club.”

He was honest with the chairman in interview; honest with the media at the briefing; and he’s honest with himself when reflecting on his departure from the Bulldogs and the size of the job that lies ahead of him at Oldham.

Of Batley’s decision not to offer him a new deal, he said:

“I’m not naive. It’s a results-driven business and if they don’t meet expectations it’s the coach’s head that will roll.

“The job here is a tough one, not least because of the disparity between budgets at the top of the Championship and those lower down.

“York City Knights actually spent more than clubs at the lower end of the Championship, even though it was their first season up, and I don’t suppose I’ll have that luxury.”

He also made the point that most Championship clubs had already built their squads for next year so recruitment of the right players wouldn’t be easy due to both availability and financial restrictions.

There was quality already in the Oldham squad but it would maybe benefit from a bit of polish and talks with the chairman were already under way.

Talking of polish, he said the Championship was his favourite division of the three. He felt it provided more attractive rugby than Super League which tended, in the main, to be more stereotyped.

You might not agree . . . but you can’t question his honesty.


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