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New Beginnings: Seibold seizes opportunity

It was the phone call which set the wheels in motion for nearly an entire year.

With the Rugby League world still responding to his exit from Brisbane, Anthony Seibold's phone began to ring off the hook.

Friends, family, colleagues, journalists, you name it.

Amongst the noise and various voices, came a call from an overseas number.

It was none other than Australian Rugby legend Eddie Jones, who just so happens to also be the Head Coach of the English National side.

"I've known Eddie for a couple of years now, we've done a lot of shared learning," Seibold said.

"When I resigned at the Broncos he reached out to me to see if I could do some projects for him remotely, from here from Australia."

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Just 12 months after departing the Queensland capital, Seibold found himself right back in the thick of the action north of the border.

This time as a coaching consultant to Adam O'Brien, operating on a full-time basis inside the Sunshine Coast Hub.

One morning, the phone rang again.

"It was a little bit out of the blue when he phoned me to offer the role," he said.

"It was an offer I really thought deeply about.

"In the end I thought it was a fantastic opportunity to work under Eddie and it would be a good challenge to switch from league to union."

Challenge doesn't even begin to describe the task at hand for Seibold and Jones.

After dramatically knocking out the All Blacks in the semi-final of the 2019 World Cup, the English fell to South Africa in the Final.

Driven to go one-better in 2023, Jones is already deep in preparation as the build up to the next World Cup begins to ramp up.

It's an allure the former South Sydney boss ultimately couldn't refuse, despite a successful year alongside O'Brien in the Hunter.

"I wanted to experience the preparation leading into a World Cup," he said.

"It's the third biggest sporting event on Earth, besides the Olympics and the Soccer World Cup.

"I just thought it would be a challenge that if I turned down, I'd wind up regretting it in 10 or 20 years."

The fact he's departing Newcastle after just one season is certainly no blight on Seibold's time at the Club.

After all, the 46-year-old was enticed enough by the opportunity to work alongside O'Brien that he was making the two-and-a-half hour journey up the M1 from the Northern Beaches multiple times a week.

"I was doing the commute from Sydney, which gave me heaps of time to reflect," he said.

"It's been a really enjoyable time, Adam's done a tremendous job preparing the team.

"It's the first time in 18 years the Knights have made back to back play offs, which says a lot about him, his coaching staff and the playing group.

"It's been incredibly worthwhile, I've loved every minute of it."

Originally signing on as a consultant, Seibold took a hands-on approach with mentoring what is a relatively young coaching staff.

O'Brien and his assistants; Willie Peters, Rory Kostjasyn and Eric Smith, all used Seibold as a sounding board in an effort to improve their own coaching credentials.

"Being a resource and mentor to them - I think their growth as Assistant Coaches has been really pleasing to see," he said.

"I was someone they could use as a resource and I could help them with their processes."

Enter COVID-19.

Virtually overnight the entire competition changed, and the man known as 'Seibs' was made to change his role with it.

Just 41 players and staff were aloud into the initial bubble north of the border.

When the list was finalised, Seibold's name was on it, but no longer as a consultant.

He was now tasked with improving the side's defence.

"I've really enjoyed being back coaching on the field," he said.

"They're two really different roles, but like I said to Adam when I signed on, I'm here as a resource for the staff and players and I feel I've done a positive job in that regard."

It's tough to make an argument against him.

Prior to Seibold being handed the reigns, the Knights sat 11th in the league for their defence. In the eight games since, they have risen three spots to eighth.

Not to mention they were sitting 14th following a loss to South Sydney back in June. Since then, they have won seven from 10 to rocket into seventh.

Now, Seibold and the Knights find themselves with an Elimination Final to win on Sunday afternoon.

"The group have done an exceptional job to fight their way back into this position," he said.

"They've knuckled down, and the next step now is to win on Sunday.

"I truly believe the group can do that, they can go as far as they want to go."