What are Coaches and Selectors really looking for

The selection process for any player is never easy. From under-11 to the All Blacks, unknown factors always make players question if they are doing the right actions. This selection process only gets harder when the communication between selectors and players are limited, making the player question what they are even looking for in the first place.

IRANZ High Performance Course
The IRANZ High Performance Course has featured coaches such as current All Black Coach Steve Hansen

From our experience at IRANZ, we know it’s easy to overlook simple actions that selectors look for when watching players. Below are four key ideas for a player to have in their head when heading into a trial game, and the actions players can do to stand out when they get their opportunity.

1) Work rate.

Players might think that one good run, a strong tackle or an excellent offload is enough to catch the attention of the selectors. However,  when selectors are watching; they have a set amount of time to watch each player. They are looking for their total work rate around the park for that set amount of time. Impressing a selector without the ball is essential. When you don’t have the ball, it’s critical to show that, you get up quick, get where you need to be, make an impact when you get the chance. Communicate. Read the game. A high work rate will impress.   

IRANZ Graduate Tiaan Falcon
IRANZ Graduate Tiaan Falcon receiving Position-Specific Coaching from Japan’s Assistant Coach Tony Brown

2) Be a team player.

Often players think they have to show off everything they can do; this can lead to them making poor decisions. Remember, rugby is still a team game. Selectors want to see players who are going to make the correct decision in the heat of the moment. A selector is more likely to remember a player who did the wrong action, like trying to beat an opposition player when there is an overlap. Even if you do manage to beat the player, the selectors note the poor decision making.

Wayne Smith talks with players during training
Wayne Smith All Black Coach working with the 1st 5/8

3) Know the core role of your position.

Having a clear idea of the expectations of your position during a rugby game ensures you can execute the core skills that selectors want to see. X-Factor is what you can bring on top of your core roles. A Props that can run with the ball is great, however, if that Prop didn’t hit the rucks, pass the ball or offer a secure set piece at the scrum, Selectors will notice this. If a player can’t execute the core tasks of that position first any X-factor they have won’t be enough to impress the selectors.

4) Be Hungry.

In professional sport sometimes you miss out, this is just the reality. However, this doesn’t mean you aren’t good enough. If you happen to miss out in a selection, you have to have the mindset and be prepared to work hard and come back next year. The best thing to do is try to find out the reasons you missed out. Once you know these be prepared to work hard and improve these areas for next year. Selectors remember a player who goes away and improves on what’s asked of them.   Coming back improved the following year can often be an advantage compared to the player who made it currently and thinks he doesn’t need to improve. 

Crusaders Head Coaches Scott Razor Robinson working with players on an IRANZ Player Course

For players who are looking to genuinely improve their rugby, finding development opportunities can be challenging. That’s why IRANZ created the IRANZ Combine for only $990 for three days of development, accessibility to IRANZ world-leading coaches and development has never been easier. To learn more click the link below or get in contact with an IRANZ staff member to discuss any IRANZ courses further.

All Black Ardie Savea on a IRANZ Player Development Course