Coach prepares for World Cup
WITH arguably the best coaching record in the nation, Australian coach Ross Shepherd goes into his third Polocrosse World Cup this weekend in England confident he can steer his team to another victory.
The Warwick Polocrosse Club member was appointed to coach Australia at the inaugural World Cup in 2003 and eight years later is still at the helm with a record of 18 wins and no losses.
QSport CEO Peter Cummiskey said such a coaching record was extremely rare.
“It is rare at any level but especially at international level,” Cummiskey said.
“Once a team gets to double figures, the law of averages suggests a loss is around the corner.”
Shepherd played for Australia in polocrosse but doesn’t feel he is under pressure to maintain his winning record as a coach.
“The other teams are under pressure, if our team plays as well as it can, no one will get close to us,” he said.
While Zimbabwe missed the top four in the 2007 World Cup, Shepherd said he had heard they had beaten top-four team South Africa in the run up to the cup which puts a different perspective on the 2011 event.
Australia is one of the few teams without a player backing up from the 2007 cup but that doesn’t bother Shepherd.
“It is a young person’s game,” he said.
He admits putting the right players with the right horses is one of his biggest tasks at the cup.
Australia drew 12 horses, six for the men and six for the women, after the available horses were put into eight equal groups for the draw.
Cummiskey sees some similarities between the winning run of
Shepherd and that of decorated former Australian cricket coach John Buchanan.
“Cricket and polocrosse is played in many of the same countries, like quite a number of sports there is a top four or six in the world,” Cummiskey said.
He said the winning run by Shepherd was even more outstanding as it not only depended on players but on horses which were drawn from a pool.
“The horses are an additional factor,” Cummiskey said.
While acknowledging Australia had more players to select from in polocrosse than its competitors, he said it was the same in many sport, including State of Origin rugby league.
“Queensland has a third of the players and wins, numbers don’t matter, you pick the best 17 in rugby league,” he said.
Cummiskey is excited about the winning run in polocrosse as it enshrines the link between man, woman and horse.
Shepherd doesn’t compare himself with other coaches but would love the chance to be in a dressing room and see St George Illawarra Dragons coach Wayne Bennett talking to his players.
“I would like to see how Wayne relates to the players, he is the one coach I look up to,” Shepherd said.
There are three round games at Rugby, England, this weekend and then the finals next weekend.