Joondalup Giants – 2023 Fuel To Go & Play Premiership Season Preview

BY PETER ROWE

In the final part of our Fuel to Go and Play Premiership preview, we caught up with returning coach John Harbin to discuss how the Joondalup Giants may fare in 2023.

Joondalup Giants are hoping the return of veteran coach John Harbin will reignite another finals push in 2023 – remembering the success he brought to the club in 2020.

Harbin likes to play down that success and prefers to concentrate on the now rather that the past.

“That was three years ago and it was a great season, but my job is about this season now,” he said, taking a break from preparing more preseason training sessions for the northern suburbs club.

“I think everyone at the club would agree that 2022 was disappointing, but we have moved on.

Harbin, a man with a very impressive coaching resume, had just returned from a working  holiday in the UK, where he held coaching seminars at a number British clubs, when he was approached to return to the Giants.

“I went to the UK for a holiday but got calls from a number of clubs in Yorkshire to help out – and I love the game so much, I couldn’t refuse.”

Upon his return to WA he started the ‘process’ at the Giants.

He calls it a ‘process’.  “I believe in the process to get the right outcomes. The right environment, good training and improvement of skills … winning is the bi-product,” he said.

By his own admission, he’s a no-nonsense coach who expects commitment from his squad.

“Look, some players from last year have left but we have a core group that is really committed, Gus Marshall, Joel Irvine, Brad Sparrow and Travis Haney are just four. Plus a few others and we’ve added a few from Alkimos Tigers who have returned to the club (Luke Turner and Davie Martin).”

And Taurean Sheehan? “Of course. He’s super fit and a great club man.”

The addition of four rugby union players has also bolstered the squad as Harbin sets to work rebuilding the team.

“It’s a challenge,” he admitted. “But one I’m enjoying.  I want to make a difference and I hope players buy in.”

Sheehan has bought in for another season. “I can’t wait for the season to start,” the Ken Allen Medal winner said.

“I missed a fair bit of last year through injury so I want to achieve something this year.”

Harbin admits though, that perhaps the biggest challenge is managing the FIFO rosters – as many players at all clubs work away and are only available for so many weeks of the season.

“It has a big effect on consistency and how we coach and train, but we take it in our stride and plan accordingly,” he said.

“I probably spend more time planning a training session that it actually lasts – but I want to get everything right, so t’s important to me – even the little things.”

Harbin is installing a no-nonsense belief in his squad that demands they are accountable for their actions.

“I don’t win Grand Finals, players do,” he said.

“We’re building around enthusiasm for the club and to play league. Players have got to want to play for the club.

“It’s no good just talking about it – they have to do it!”

Another trait the Leeds-born coach has brought is honesty.

He wants honesty in training as well as playing and if he can get that he knows his Giants are capable of beating anyone.

And commitment – that is a big word when he talks about his plans.

“It’s a five team competition, so if you keep beating just one team then you have a chance,” he said, of making finals.

“But I’m not really looking right now at other teams. I’m concentrating on my own backyard. If we can get our planning and execution right then we will be threat.”