Andrew Johns has one of the greatest minds in the game.
When he talks, you listen and that’s exactly what Scott Dureau did when plying his apprenticeship under the eighth immortal in the mid-2000s.
But when Johns was attempting to teach a young Dureau, Luke Walsh and Jarrod Mullen, some of what he said missed the mark.
“When I was younger and first came in, I didn’t really understand what that meant,” Dureau told the Our Town Our Team podcast.
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“Like what do you mean, they’re going to do whatever they’re want to do, I can’t dictate to them.
“Joey would talk about manipulating them and making them move the way we wanted them to move.”
As a coach and player who went on to play for nine seasons at the elite level, the former No.7 understands exactly what he was trying to teach.
He spoke of getting the defence to make errors and ways of getting them to do it.
There are basic moves one can make when it comes to deception.
Looking one way and playing the other, shaping to kick and then passing but it goes deeper than that.
“There’s subtle things about where you stand, the width of pass. The tempo is how fast you move with ball in hand,” he explains.
“The part I’ve learnt now is more of a sequence of play so it’s not one big play.
“A lot of younger players, they set up for that one big play.
“They take it one play to the left and we’re going to have that big shift play to the right.
“… it’s more the continuous plays. Three or four in a row or even early in the game, getting a read as to how the defender might move.
“I tell our players, the first couple of sets in a game are your learning sets. Understanding their movements and what they’re going to do.”
In watching the defence, Dureau said his halves will be looking for how the oppositions moves.
They’re also checking for injury.
If someone is limping, they may work away from him before hitting back in open space to get him moving or to isolate him.
As the coach of the 20s, they’re lessons he’s now imparting on his young playmakers.
“As a half, that’s your job, you want to move them,” he said.
“It’s like a game of chess, to try and isolate their poorer defenders or create bigger spaces for the guys in your team who are quite athletic.
“It took some time, but I wish I knew back then what I know now as it would probably would have made me a better player.”