Einstein factor to give Coffs edge in decider
By GREG WHITE
ALBERT EINSTEIN'S famous formula E=mc2 is as baffling to many as the "science" of rugby football. Complex strategies involving rucks, mauls, lineouts and phase play need as much untangling as the theory of relativity. Coffs Harbour's grand final coach, Dr Paul Butcher, has mastered the art of making the difficult seem easy to his troops ? and at the same time, opened up a bottomless bag of tricks to baffle opponents. "Everything we do is clinical as we base our whole game plan around set plays and knowing where we are to run," says the marine scientist by day and rugby 'professor' after hours. "My guys are very good at that and it's taken two years of planning to successfully build our game plan." Across a season where Coffs have only lost one match ? to today's opponent Dorrigo ? Butcher has built a footballing machine that has exceeded even his high expectations. He puts it down to "clever footballers" and fitness levels no other team can match. "Rugby isn't just a matter of run, kick and tackle," he said. "There are so many subtleties in how traps are set (into which it's hoped the opponent will fall) and the way attack and defence pans out. "My players spend a lot of time practising those moves till we get them right and don't forget, they are an intelligent group in how they understand why everything holds together." Butcher is famous for trying out tactical moves on lesser teams ? then dropping them if things don't work out or bringing them back as a shock weapon on tough rivals. Like the rolling maul tested on the sly against Manning River on a trip to Taree that cut its awesome, magnificent, devastating path through the Rangers in the major semi-final weeks later. "People don't realise how much something like that can take out of the player," Butcher said after that game. "We train hard on a Tuesday to make sure we can run for 80 minutes on a full battery and a lot do extra work-outs away from training". And he doesn't mind players using initiative. "A few forwards still think they are backs but I like this," he grinned. "As long as the ball is secured correctly in the pack and we don't need extra numbers, I'm happy for one or two creating space past the outside centre. "Watch any international team on attack where phase goes from side to side and they always hold one forward over to create an overlap." Watching and learning from any source on offer is part of Butcher's coaching brief. "The Wallabies train next to work and I watch them in my lunch hour," he revealed. "Usually I spend more time writing down moves and plays than eating. "It helps my development as a coach and the players always have something new to learn and try out across three grades." He'll even rub shoulders with the dreaded 'leaugies' if there's some new discovery to be made. "They told me Jock Moore is the best defender Group 2 has seen so I brought him in to perfect our tackling," he said. "Jock taught so much to the boys and you can see the results when they tackle." And when he heard about 'this brilliant five-eighth Woolgoolga have' he took a sideline seat to watch the Seahorses play Orara Valley. "Arthur Murray is a genius and I picked up some clues from watching him," he said admiringly of the 'king'. "He would be a sensation if he switched to rugby." Is that a hint of mischief from Butcher? But after all the science, strategies and simplification of the intricate mysteries of rugby, it all come down to one final 80-minute game of football, this afternoon. "We have the talent to pull it off," Butcher predicted confidently. "It really is very simple."