Hooker Matt Ballin was meticulous when it came to match preparation during his outstanding 217 career games for Manly.
One of the most hardworking and respected number nines to ever play for Manly, Ballin left no stone unturned when it came to fitness and working on his game skills.
And it is some of those traits that he hopes will carry over into his new role as the Sea Eagles Jersey Flegg (U20s) Coach for 2019.
Ballin will make his coaching debut at Lottoland on Saturday when Manly tackles the Sydney Roosters from 3.15pm.
“I’m feeling excited about the season finally starting. Our players have done plenty of hard work in the pre-season and have been really committed to turn up and to work for each other,’’ Ballin said.
“You never know how you are going to go until they start playing, so I am excited to see what the boys can toss up against the Roosters.”
Ballin thought he knew about the ‘different components’ that went into coaching as a player but that quickly changed.
“When you come into coaching, you have a physio, your strength and conditioner, your high-performance man on the field, you’ve got to give your assistant coaches jobs to do, and then you've got to send out messages to the trainers,'' Ballin said.
“As a coach, it has all been new to me and it has come together really well. We have a great support staff and they have all contributed to what I think has been a good pre-season.
“There is a lot more to it than I thought but I have thoroughly enjoyed it. I have learnt plenty in the pre-season and I feel I will be able to manage it really well.”
Ballin said his squad possesses plenty of exciting young talent with the side to be captained by hooker Tyran Ott (pictured right), a shining light for Manly in the SG Ball competition last season.
“Tyran has got a bright future in the game and he has already played a few games in the NSW Cup,’’ Ballin said.
“Keith Titmuss (pictured left) is a very good prop who has had some time with the NRL squad and has come back to us with a really positive attitude. Michael Fenn is another really good prop who has a good future.
“Sean Vaivelata is a great young back-rower who was sought after by a lot of clubs but Manly was lucky enough to secure him.
“There are plenty of good players here with potential but what I have drilled into them in the pre-season is that potential doesn’t matter because it is about putting it out on the field at each training session.
“This can then accumulate into a great pre-season which can then transition into a really strong season.
“The squad is aware there are some really good individuals but as a team, we need to be strong and we have worked hard on being resilient.”
And what sort of person will Matt Ballin be in the coaches box?
“I think I will be fairly calm as that’s my nature. But ask me that question again in three months,’’ Ballin said with a laugh.