It’s no secret NRL players change teams like we change underwear, but it is not always the breath of fresh air management intended.
New Manly Sea Eagles centre and second-row Nathan Green knows the feeling too well. After four years as the Illawarra’s Dragons rising star, he has been benched by Manly for this week’s match against the Parramatta Eels.
“Yeah, it’s unsettling for sure, but that’s how change and the game works,” Green said.
“It’s a different playing field, literally. I went from the team I grew up playing with from juniors all the way through to the Dragons – the place I developed as a player – to a completely different environment. Different home ground, new team, new dynamics, different coach – it’s definitely a shock to the system.
“There isn’t really time for an adjustment period – you jump straight into a team that’s already been playing together and figure out how you work the best in it.”
Green has not ruled out a return to the Dragons, but he is determined to make the most of his time at Manly.
“Maybe, one day, if it turned out to be the right fit – but I wouldn’t just quit because it’s a bit harder right now, I just have to keep adapting.”
Assist Group Sports psychologist Dr Emma Louis-Renshaw said adaptation was the key to success, and that clubs should make it a priority for new players.
“Teamwork is one of the main reasons teams succeed or fail – that’s why so many organisations invest so much in team development. Usually a lot of time goes into team-building exercises, and often the results of that reflect on performance,” Dr Louis-Renshaw said.
“Especially the change in leadership style – a player could go from being used to a laid-back approach to playing under an authoritarian – that’s definitely going to affect performance as well as the players’ mental response to a new coach.”
“As primary-school as it sounds, it’s important for the team to make new players feel welcome in a new team dynamic, because it’s immediately going to affect their performance on the field and team morale during matches – it’s easy for anyone to see in the first ten minutes of a game whether they’re working together or they aren’t.
“It’s about building a culture that leads to success.”