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Talking with Anthony Griffin about what makes a good NRL coach

Since the beginning of his coaching career in 2011 with the Brisbane Broncos, the man they call 'Hook' has cultivated a reputation for being an old-school, hard-nosed, no-nonsense coach.

With a record number of clubs severing ties with their own coaches in 2020, clubs are taking notice of Anthony Griffin and the leadership he can bring.

Griffin became the third ever coach of the Broncos when he took over from Ivan Henjak, taking the club to within one game of the Grand Final in his first year.

He oversaw 101 games and won 53 percent of those games before being replaced in 2014 by the club's foundation coach, Wayne Bennett.

By 2016, he was given the reigns of the Penrith Panthers where he managed to reach the finals in three consecutive seasons - though he was then abruptly and controversially sacked by Gus Gould.

If nothing else, his sackings have taught him several key lessons about coaching in the NRL.

"Coaching is about leadership, more than anything" Griffin tells Talking With TK.

"It's not about football knowledge or how smart you are - it's about leadership, leading men and helping them emotionally connect so they want to do more for their teammate than for themselves.

"So they get into a team where they care more about the result of the team and the welfare of their teammates - when that's more important than themselves, that's when you've got a strong football team."

Griffin gushed about Penrith's Nathan Cleary, the man he handed his debut to as an 18-year-old in 2016.

"Nathan's a terrific young guy, and what he's done in his career so far is unbelievable when you think he's only 21 or 22.

"And that's one of the biggest thrills in coaching... when you get a good, young talented person with a great attitude... it's amazing when you open the door and give them opportunity, they very rarely let you down.

"That's one of the real feel-good things about coaching; playing a part in getting them ready for their career and opening the door and watching them progress.

"(Nathan's) a really good, solid head - he's a leader in the making.

"He's going to be a great leader if the stays at Penrith or wherever he ends up - he'll end up the captain of a football team."

Griffin believes his coaching style was important in Cleary's incredible rise to the top of the NRL.

"I believe the person comes first - you've got to coach the person first.

"They've got to have a respect and a willingness to play for you, otherwise the relationship's dead.

"You don't have to always be best mates, even though most of the time you end up with a real connection with your players, but... the welfare of the person and trying to help the individual comes first.

"When they understand that there's an empathy that you've got for them, then you're able to mould them into a team.

"It's a little bit like a family, there's guys that need you for five minutes of the day and there's guys that want you for an hour of the day.

"Some days are really good and some days aren't so good, but you've got to live together.

"It's a whole lot of fun and it's really rewarding when it all comes together and you see their intent and the way they care of each other in the way they play - that's when it becomes all worthwhile."

With a heartfelt but stern view on the brutal world of NRL coaching, it is little wonder why so many clubs are sounding out 'Hook' to bring stability to their club.