FORMER NRL player Jamie Soward has revealed a desire to coach New York’s first professional rugby league team.
And if he can’t land the main gig, he wants to help “pioneer” the venture in some way.
Soward told foxsports.com.au of his ambitious plan to take the reins of the American franchise, which is gunning to join England’s Championship for the 2019 season.
His interest follows that of South Sydney premiership winner Sam Burgess, who revealed on Tuesday he would consider leaving Australia to represent the New York team.
The franchise has also revealed interest in luring Jarryd Hayne back to the states to be their marquee star.
And Soward wants to be the man at the helm.
“Being a part of and pioneering some of Australia’s best players to New York City is something that intrigues me,” Soward said.
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“I’ve had a few talks with some people over there. Whether they want to go with an untested coach is probably not their line of thinking but it’s exciting times and puts the pressure back on the NRL in a way.”
But Soward admits the New York stakeholders might shy away from signing an untried coach in their debut season.
“I know Brian Noble was very influential in the Toronto (Wolfpack) side of things so they probably want a big name to go over and drum up publicity,” he said.
“On that side of things I’m probably a bit young but you have to put your hat in the ring.
“Coaching, you probably need a bit of life experience. You’re dealing with 20 year olds who are going through stuff I’ve only just been through myself.
“Being on a coaching staff who may need someone just out of the game is something that intrigues me.
“Coaching a new franchise excites me. Whether it happens or not is another thing.”
Soward played 215 NRL games, won a premiership in 2010, and represented NSW in an accomplished career.
He finished his career in England after being cut by Penrith mid-2016, and has entered sports media upon his return to Australia.
But he would sacrifice that work in Australia for a shot at being involved in rugby league history in New York.
If he doesn’t land the head coach role, Soward says he would be happy to do whatever job the franchise asked of him.
“A consultancy role, looking at talent over here is something I have spoken to my friend about,” Soward told foxsports.com.au.
“With no 20s competition next year (in Australia), we might see half a dozen guys playing for the New York City franchise.
“I think I’ll end up coaching one day but there’s no rush. At the moment I’m concentrating on Fox Sports and Triple M. I’m enjoying the media side of things. I’ve really enjoyed my first year of retirement.”
If Hayne does join the franchise, the head coach will have an interesting job on their hands.
The cross-code superstar famously fell out with Gold Coast coach Neil Henry this year, allegedly to the point the pair stopped talking to each other.
Henry ended up being sacked by the Titans before the season had ended, with the club leaning towards their million-dollar star in the bitter dispute.
Hayne’s training ethic was also brought into question in a 2017 season that didn’t pan out well for the star fullback.
And Soward admits coaching a man who he played with would be a new challenge for him.
“There’s a mutual respect there when you work with people you’ve played with,” Soward said.
“As long as the coaching staff gives mutual respect to the player, you’ll get it back tenfold.
That’s something I’ve learnt as a player — getting on with the player away from rugby league and understanding life away from the game.
“Sometimes players need an ear to listen or a cuddle, if you can understand that, you’ll get the best out of people. That’s been the case my whole career, the people that understood me away from rugby league got the best out of me.
“If I can take one thing into coaching, whether that’s now or 10 years, it’s understanding life away from footy.”