Tuesday, 11th June 2019 @ 17:00
Harlequins’ new Assistant Coach Sean Long outlines his reasons for joining the Club and lays out his attacking plans for the new season
Sean Long is a true legend of Rugby League. As a player, he represented both England and Great Britain and won a host of domestic titles across his career with St Helens including two World Club Challenges, four Grand Finals and five Challenge Cups. He was a Lance Todd winner three times and awarded the Man of Steel Trophy in the year 2000 as a result of being the best player in the Super League that season.
After retiring from the game, Long moved into coaching, again signing for St Helens and helping them reach the summit of the Super League this season and the semi-final of the Challenge Cup.
Making the shift from the 13-man code may have come as a surprise to some, but Long is confident that this is the right move for him, especially after meeting with Quins’ Head of Rugby Paul Gustard: “I had a few offers from Gallagher Premiership sides, but I chose Quins after I met with Gussy and heard about his plans for the future and the way he wants to play. This organisation has some unbelievable players and once I had spoken to him it was a done deal.
“When I first retired from League, I ended up playing Rugby Union for a couple of years at Preston Grasshoppers, and I really enjoyed it. I managed to gain a strong understanding of the game and I’ve followed it since then.
“Since I finished playing, I’ve been watching it in some detail, and I’ve found that the attacking shapes in Union are very similar to Rugby League. I know it’s a different code, but the formations are aligned, and I feel I can bring some awareness of the finer detail to my role at Quins.”
One of the sport’s most decorated athletes, Long has a keen understanding of exactly what it takes to win at the highest level and is keen to bring that mentality to the Club next season: “Winning is a culture, and once you start, it becomes a habit, especially if you can instil that mentality amongst the entire squad.
“You also have to replicate that approach on the training park, in terms of the intensity and the standard of execution that you set yourself, then you’ll start seeing those results on the pitch.
“Quins had a good season last year, but now it’s about finding that extra 10% and becoming a better team and I believe I can help achieve that, both through my experiences as an ex-player and as a coach.”
Long is no stranger to The Stoop, having played there when London Broncos were based at the ground between 2006-11: “When Broncos were based at The Stoop, I used to play there quite a bit. It’s a good track and I’ve got some good memories from being at the stadium. It’s got a good capacity, especially when its bouncing, and it had a great atmosphere that the players could feed off.
“Ultimately, I want to bring a load of energy to the Club. There are some world class players here and they’ve signed a few more. It’s a big move for me and my family to come down to London but it’s one that we’re really looking forward to and I can’t wait to get started.
“I look forward to working with the likes of Danny (Care) and Marcus (Smith) in terms of the exciting brand of rugby that I want to coach. The way I want to attack is challenging, but we’ll get the rewards from it and it’ll be entertaining for the supporters.”
In the fourth week of pre-season, the players were split into groups of three for a tough challenge