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Accidental coach to put roar into Tigers

Date

Adrian Proszenko

Michael Potter was an award-winning player who took up coaching on the ''spur of the moment'' and has a history of getting things done in a hurry.

Double Dally M winner … Michael Potter has been bitten by the coaching bug.

Double Dally M winner … Michael Potter has been bitten by the coaching bug. Photo: Anthony Johnson

The WA Reds car park resembled a luxury car dealership back in the Super League days. All the players, showered with money during the game's civil war, appeared to be in a competition to see who could turn up in the most ostentatious wheels. Except one.

''I'll never forget it,'' recalled Reds coach Peter Mullholland. ''The boys were pulling in in BMWs, Jeep Cherokees, Ford Falcon convertibles. We had some rock stars over there and all of these cars have turned up in the car park. And then all of a sudden, Mick Potter pulls up in a $2000 second-hand Mitsubishi Sigma with 200,000 kilometres on the clock.

''He just wanted to prove a point. It was the funniest and most salient thing he could have done.''

Michael Potter has a way of making an impression in his understated way. He is doing it at Wests Tigers, where the club is blooding the least experienced coach in the NRL after parting with its most experienced. If the former childcare centre owner is is in charge of a different breed of cubs. But if his rise up the coaching ranks is as rapid as those during his playing days, the joint-venture club is in good hands.

''He was a third-grade centre and I put him at fullback and he got the Dally M medal,'' two-time premiership winning coach Warren Ryan said of their association at Canterbury. ''We went away for our trip at the end of the year and he didn't have a sponsor's shirt, such was his meteoric rise.''

Had he been honest with Canterbury officials, Potter wouldn't have been on the plane. Or in first grade. The product of St Gregory's, Campbelltown - where he was first coached by Mullholland - played most of his junior footy in the centres. But he played only one game at Canterbury in the position, in the under-23s, as opportunities came in higher grades on the wing and at fullback.

''You have played at fullback before, haven't you?'' he was asked.

''I said, 'Yeah','' Potter admits now. ''But I'd never played there.''

It didn't seem to matter. He soon became the game's number one No.1 and still has the distinction of being the only man to win Dally M medals at two clubs, Canterbury and St George.

He might have told a little white lie, but it's impossible to question the now 49-year-old's integrity. For proof, look no further than his last job, with Bradford last year. Even when the Super League club imploded financially - ''They made redundant all of the administration staff except for two HR people and one apprentice in the office'' - he kept turning up. Eventually the Bulls found new owners but by then Potter was out of contract.

Such was his bond with the players, he worked the final five months for nothing. They would have played finals football had they not been docked for entering administration. ''It was the players who convinced me and the other coaching staff to stay,'' he said.

There have been other times when Potts has taken one for the team. In his first-grade debut, he was kneed in the ribs by Easts fullback Marty Gurr while diving over the line. The pain lingers to this day.

''I still can't lie down on a surfboard without getting real sore,'' Potter said. ''I've still got a big massive lump in my rib cartilage. I was out for the next four weeks. I couldn't bend over, couldn't cough.'' Despite the pain, he refused to leave the field in his debut. ''Tough kid, talented player,'' Phil Gould, a teammate on that day, said. ''He was very quiet and reserved, didn't say much. But inwardly very determined and tough.''

A year later, at the age of 19, Potter earned his first Dally M medal. And first premiership ring. He should have been too young to properly celebrate the achievements on Canterbury's end-of-season trip to New Orleans, Los Angeles and Hawaii, where the legal drinking age is 21. However, he might or might not have snuck into the odd licensed premises as Peter Tunks.

''This was before they had photo licences, you just had to remember the date of birth,'' Potter said, chuckling. '''Tunksy' didn't need one - he was big enough to talk his way through. It was a great experience. That holiday was worth more than my whole contract.''

While the Tigers players have nicknamed him 'Harry', they might be amused to learn that Potter answered to a very different moniker in his playing days. Former Dragons teammate Paul Osborne christened him Gorilla Biscuit.

''He came up with the name and I'm going 'How can you call someone Gorilla Biscuit'?'' Potter said, chuckling. ''Have a look at his head! He's the classic Gorilla Biscuit person.''

Mullholland, who spent a year convincing Potter to come out of retirement to come to the Reds, offered an anecdote from their days at St Gregory's.

''I just remember he kept breaking his dental plate,'' Mullholland said. ''He had two teeth knocked out and he'd hand me the plate before a match. I'd put it in my back pocket like an imbecile and sit on it. I reckon I broke it four times.''

The former NSW fullback has learnt from some of the great clipboard-holders, including Ryan, Gould and Brian Smith. But coaching was never an ambition during his playing days and he fell into the profession by accident.

Like most NRL players, he had a level-one coaching certificate when he received a call from then-Bradford mentor Matthew Elliott.

''I'd seen [during my player days] how many groups were at that coach, whether it be media, fans, other staff, players who don't get picked or wives of players who don't get picked,'' Potter said. ''There was always someone at the coach.''

However, he accepted a role as Elliott's assistant and the coaching bug bit. ''It was a spur of the moment thing,'' he said. ''In hindsight, I probably didn't think it all the way through.''

NRL Season 2014

Round 1
Thu, 06 MarTimes shown AEDT
SOU 28 vs SYD 8 Report Stats
Fri, 07 MarTimes shown AEDT
BUL 12 vs BRI 18 Stats
Sat, 08 MarTimes shown AEDT
PEN 30 vs NEW 8 Report Stats
MAN 22 vs MEL 23 Report Stats
NQL 28 vs CAN 22 Report Stats
Sun, 09 MarTimes shown AEDT
STG 44 vs WES 24 Report Stats
PAR 36 vs NZW 16 Report Stats
Mon, 10 MarTimes shown AEDT
CRO 12 vs GCT 18 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Fri, 14 MarTimes shown AEDT
MAN 14 vs SOU 12 Report Stats
BRI 16 vs NQL 12 Report Stats
Sat, 15 MarTimes shown AEDT
NZW 12 vs STG 31 Report Stats
MEL 18 vs PEN 17 Report Stats
SYD 56 vs PAR 4 Report Stats
Sun, 16 MarTimes shown AEDT
GCT 12 vs WES 42 Report Stats
NEW 20 vs CAN 26 Report Stats
Mon, 17 MarTimes shown AEDT
BUL 42 vs CRO 4 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 3
Fri, 21 MarTimes shown AEDT
WES 25 vs SOU 16 Report Stats
BRI 26 vs SYD 30 Report Stats
Sat, 22 MarTimes shown AEDT
PEN 18 vs BUL 16 Report Stats
CRO 12 vs STG 14 Report Stats
NQL 16 vs NZW 20 Report Stats
Sun, 23 MarTimes shown AEDT
MAN 22 vs PAR 18 Report Stats
CAN 12 vs GCT 24 Stats
Mon, 24 MarTimes shown AEDT
MEL 28 vs NEW 20 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 4
Fri, 28 MarTimes shown AEDT
SYD vs MAN 8 Report Stats
STG 20 vs BRI 36 Report Stats
Sat, 29 MarTimes shown AEDT
NZW 42 vs WES 18 Report Stats
PAR 32 vs PEN 16 Report Stats
BUL 40 vs MEL 12 Report Stats
Sun, 30 MarTimes shown AEDT
SOU 18 vs CAN 30 Report Stats
NEW 30 vs CRO Report Stats
Mon, 31 MarTimes shown AEDT
GCT 13 vs NQL 12 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 5
Fri, 04 AprTimes shown AEDT
SYD 8 vs BUL 9 Report Stats
BRI 18 vs PAR 25 Report Stats
Sat, 05 AprTimes shown AEDT
CRO 37 vs NZW 6 Report Stats
PEN 12 vs CAN 6 Report Stats
STG 6 vs SOU 26 Report Stats
Sun, 06 AprTimes shown AEST
MEL 26 vs GCT 28 Report Stats
WES 34 vs MAN 18 Report Stats
Mon, 07 AprTimes shown AEST
NQL 28 vs NEW 2 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 6
Fri, 11 AprTimes shown AEST
PEN 2 vs SOU 18 Report Stats
GCT 12 vs BRI 8 Report Stats
Sat, 12 AprTimes shown AEST
CAN 12 vs NEW 26 Report Stats
PAR 14 vs SYD 12 Report Stats
WES 16 vs NQL 4 Report Stats
Sun, 13 AprTimes shown AEST
NZW 20 vs BUL 21 Report Stats
MAN 24 vs CRO 4 Report Stats
Mon, 14 AprTimes shown AEST
MEL 28 vs STG 24 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 7
Fri, 18 AprTimes shown AEST
SOU 14 vs BUL 15 Report Stats
NEW 6 vs BRI 32 Report Stats
MAN 26 vs NQL 21 Report Stats
Sat, 19 AprTimes shown AEST
STG 20 vs NZW 10 Report Stats
CRO 18 vs SYD 24 Report Stats
Sun, 20 AprTimes shown AEST
CAN 24 vs MEL 22 Report Stats
Mon, 21 AprTimes shown AEST
PAR 18 vs WES 21 Report Stats
PEN 14 vs GCT 12 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 8
Fri, 25 AprTimes shown AEST
STG 14 vs SYD 34 Report Stats
MEL 10 vs NZW 16 Report Stats
BRI 26 vs SOU 28 Report Stats
Sat, 26 AprTimes shown AEST
CRO 24 vs PEN 20 Report Stats
NQL 42 vs PAR 14 Report Stats
BUL 16 vs NEW 12 Report Stats
Sun, 27 AprTimes shown AEST
MAN 54 vs CAN 18 Report Report Stats
WES 6 vs GCT 22 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 9
Fri, 09 MayTimes shown AEST
SYD 30 vs WES 6 Report Stats
NQL 27 vs BRI 14 Report Stats
Sat, 10 MayTimes shown AEST
NZW 54 vs CAN 12 Report Stats
GCT 18 vs SOU 40 Report Stats
MEL 22 vs MAN 19 Report Stats
Sun, 11 MayTimes shown AEST
NEW 10 vs PEN 32 Report Stats
STG 6 vs BUL 38 Report Stats
Mon, 12 MayTimes shown AEST
PAR 42 vs CRO 24 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 10
Fri, 16 MayTimes shown AEST
SOU 14 vs MEL 27 Report Stats
BRI 22 vs GCT 8 Report Stats
Sat, 17 MayTimes shown AEST
PAR 36 vs STG Report Stats
CRO 20 vs WES 22 Report Stats
NQL 42 vs SYD 10 Report Stats
Sun, 18 MayTimes shown AEST
CAN 20 vs PEN 26 Report Stats
BUL 16 vs NZW 12 Report Stats
Mon, 19 MayTimes shown AEST
MAN 15 vs NEW 14 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 11
Fri, 23 MayTimes shown AEST
BUL 12 vs SYD 32 Report Stats
Sat, 24 MayTimes shown AEST
GCT 16 vs NZW 24 Report Stats
WES 14 vs BRI 16 Report Stats
Sun, 25 MayTimes shown AEST
CAN 42 vs NQL 12 Report Stats
Mon, 26 MayTimes shown AEST
CRO vs SOU 18 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 12
Fri, 30 MayTimes shown AEST
PEN 38 vs PAR 12 Report Stats
Sat, 31 MayTimes shown AEST
SYD 26 vs CAN 12 Report Stats
NQL 22 vs MEL Report Stats
Sun, 01 JunTimes shown AEST
NZW 38 vs NEW 18 Report Stats
BRI 36 vs MAN 10 Report Stats
Mon, 02 JunTimes shown AEST
SOU 29 vs STG 10 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 13
Fri, 06 JunTimes shown AEST
MAN 32 vs BUL 10 Report Stats
PAR 18 vs NQL 16 Report Stats
Sat, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
GCT 14 vs PEN 36 Report Stats
STG 30 vs CRO Report Stats
SOU 34 vs NZW 18 Report Stats
Sun, 08 JunTimes shown AEST
NEW 20 vs WES 23 Report Stats
MEL 12 vs SYD 32 Report Stats
Mon, 09 JunTimes shown AEST
CAN 4 vs BRI 28 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 14
Fri, 13 JunTimes shown AEST
SOU 32 vs WES 10 Report Stats
Sat, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
PEN 18 vs STG 14 Report Stats
SYD 29 vs NEW 12 Report Stats
Sun, 15 JunTimes shown AEST
BUL 12 vs PAR 22 Report Stats
Mon, 16 JunTimes shown AEST
GCT 20 vs MEL 24 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 15
Fri, 20 JunTimes shown AEST
CAN 14 vs BUL 22 Report Stats
Sat, 21 JunTimes shown AEST
NZW 19 vs BRI 10 Report Stats
CRO vs MAN 26 Report Stats
Sun, 22 JunTimes shown AEST
MEL 46 vs PAR 20 Report Stats
GCT 18 vs STG 19 Report Stats
Mon, 23 JunTimes shown AEST
NEW 36 vs NQL 28 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 16
Fri, 27 JunTimes shown AEST
MAN 24 vs SYD 16 Report Stats
BRI 22 vs CRO 24 Report Stats
Sat, 28 JunTimes shown AEST
WES 19 vs CAN 18 Report Report Stats
NQL 20 vs SOU 18 Report Stats
Sun, 29 JunTimes shown AEST
NZW 30 vs PEN 20 Report Stats
PAR 10 vs NEW 16 Report Stats
Mon, 30 JunTimes shown AEST
STG 24 vs MEL 12 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 17
Fri, 04 JulTimes shown AEST
BUL 23 vs MAN 16 Report Stats
Sat, 05 JulTimes shown AEST
STG 27 vs NQL 24 Report Stats
SYD 28 vs CRO 30 Report Stats
Sun, 06 JulTimes shown AEST
WES 10 vs PEN 26 Report Stats
Mon, 07 JulTimes shown AEST
SOU 10 vs GCT 14 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 18
Fri, 11 JulTimes shown AEST
MAN 40 vs WES 8 Report Stats
Sat, 12 JulTimes shown AEST
NZW 48 vs PAR Report Stats
MEL 4 vs BUL 6 Report Stats
Sun, 13 JulTimes shown AEST
GCT 20 vs CAN 36 Report Stats
CRO 18 vs NEW 31 Report Stats
Mon, 14 JulTimes shown AEST
PEN 35 vs BRI 34 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 19
Fri, 18 JulTimes shown AEST
CRO 18 vs NQL 36 Report Stats
PAR 12 vs SOU 32 Report Stats
Sat, 19 JulTimes shown AEST
SYD 32 vs PEN 12 Report Stats
MEL 28 vs CAN 14 Report Stats
BRI 28 vs NZW 22 Report Stats
Sun, 20 JulTimes shown AEST
NEW 8 vs GCT 22 Report Stats
WES 46 vs BUL 18 Report Stats
Mon, 21 JulTimes shown AEST
STG 12 vs MAN 21 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 20
Fri, 25 JulTimes shown AEST
NEW 16 vs SYD 12 Report Stats
BRI 8 vs MEL 30 Stats
Sat, 26 JulTimes shown AEST
PEN 16 vs CRO 18 Report Stats
GCT 18 vs PAR 24 Stats
BUL 12 vs NQL 20 Report Stats
Sun, 27 JulTimes shown AEST
NZW 12 vs MAN 22 Report Stats
WES 12 vs STG 28 Stats
Mon, 28 JulTimes shown AEST
CAN 18 vs SOU 34 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 21
Fri, 01 AugTimes shown AEST
MAN 16 vs BRI 4 Report Stats
BUL 16 vs PEN 22 Stats
Sat, 02 AugTimes shown AEST
CRO 12 vs PAR 32 Report Stats
NQL 28 vs GCT 8 Stats
SYD 30 vs STG 22 Stats
Sun, 03 AugTimes shown AEST
CAN 18 vs NZW 54 Stats
SOU 50 vs NEW 10 Stats
Mon, 04 AugTimes shown AEST
WES 6 vs MEL 28 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 22
Fri, 08 AugTimes shown AEST
SOU 23 vs MAN 4 Report Stats
BRI 41 vs BUL 10 Report Stats
Sat, 09 AugTimes shown AEST
NEW 32 vs MEL 30 Report Stats
NQL 64 vs WES 6 Report Stats
PAR 18 vs CAN 10 Report Stats
Sun, 10 AugTimes shown AEST
NZW 16 vs CRO 12 Report Stats
STG 4 vs PEN 16 Stats
Mon, 11 AugTimes shown AEST
SYD 26 vs GCT 18 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 23
Thu, 14 AugTimes shown AEST
SOU 42 vs BRI 16 Report Stats
Fri, 15 AugTimes shown AEST
PAR 16 vs BUL 18 Report Stats
Sat, 16 AugTimes shown AEST
CAN 16 vs STG 34 Report Stats
MEL 48 vs CRO 6 Report Stats
WES 4 vs SYD 48 Report Stats
Sun, 17 AugTimes shown AEST
NEW 28 vs NZW 22 Report Stats
GCT 12 vs MAN 15 Report Stats
Mon, 18 AugTimes shown AEST
PEN 23 vs NQL 22 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 24
Thu, 21 AugTimes shown AEST
BUL 30 vs WES 10 Stats
Fri, 22 AugTimes shown AEST
PAR 22 vs MAN 12 Report Stats
Sat, 23 AugTimes shown AEST
BRI 48 vs NEW 6 Report Stats
SOU 10 vs NQL 22 Report Stats
Sun, 24 AugTimes shown AEST
NZW 12 vs SYD 46 Report Stats
CRO 12 vs CAN 22 Stats
STG 34 vs GCT 6 Stats
Mon, 25 AugTimes shown AEST
PEN 10 vs MEL 24 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 25
Thu, 28 AugTimes shown AEST
BUL 14 vs SOU 21 Stats
Fri, 29 AugTimes shown AEST
BRI 30 vs STG 22 Stats
Sat, 30 AugTimes shown AEST
NEW 42 vs PAR 12 Stats
CAN 27 vs WES 12 Stats
SYD 24 vs MEL 12 Stats
Sun, 31 AugTimes shown AEST
NZW 42 vs GCT Stats
MAN 26 vs PEN 25 Stats
Mon, 01 SepTimes shown AEST
NQL 20 vs CRO 19 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 26
Thu, 04 SepTimes shown AEST
SYD 22 vs SOU 18 Stats
Fri, 05 SepTimes shown AEST
MEL 22 vs BRI 12 Stats
Sat, 06 SepTimes shown AEST
WES 26 vs CRO 10 Stats
CAN 33 vs PAR 20 Stats
NQL 30 vs MAN 16 Stats
Sun, 07 SepTimes shown AEST
NEW 40 vs STG 10 Stats
GCT 19 vs BUL 18 Stats
PEN 22 vs NZW 6 Stats
View All Fixtures
Finals Week 1
Fri, 12 SepTimes shown AEST
MAN 24 vs SOU 40 Report Stats
Sat, 13 SepTimes shown AEST
SYD 18 vs PEN 19 Report Stats
NQL 32 vs BRI 20 Report Stats
Sun, 14 SepTimes shown AEST
MEL 4 vs BUL 28 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Finals Week 2
Fri, 19 SepTimes shown AEST
SYD 31 vs NQL 30 Report Stats
Sat, 20 SepTimes shown AEST
MAN 17 vs BUL 18 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Preliminary Finals
Fri, 26 SepTimes shown AEST
SOU 32 vs SYD 22 Report Stats
Sat, 27 SepTimes shown AEST
PEN 12 vs BUL 18 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Grand Final
Sun, 05 OctTimes shown AEDT
SOU 30 vs BUL 6 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
NRL Premiership - 2014 Ladder
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Sydney Roosters 24 16 8 0 230 36
Manly 24 16 8 0 103 36
South Sydney 24 15 9 0 224 34
Penrith 24 15 9 0 80 34
North Queensland 24 14 10 0 190 32
Melbourne 24 14 10 0 76 32
Canterbury-Bankstown 24 13 11 0 7 30
Brisbane 24 12 12 0 93 28
View all
 
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