MYM State of Origin champs tell all interview


Weeks after the State of Origin Victory (GO THE VICS!) I finally caught up with Coach Wags and MYM superstars Pierre Haddad and Joe Gitani to ask the hard hitting questions. Here’s what they had to say:

Haddad (left) and Gitani (right) celebrate after the siren.

Haddad (left) and Gitani (right) celebrate after the siren.

1.    Just how hard was team selection? From what I saw in training you were spoiled for choice.

Coach Wag- Extremely hard. We are blessed with a great choice of different style players who can fill various roles required within the team structure. As we called the team in to announce the squad we made 2 more changes in that very 100 meter walk towards the boundary at the end of training to announce the final squad.

2.    What was going through your headspace in the rooms before the game?

Haddad I just tried to picture the game in hand and how I’d need to go about it. To be honest I was bit worried about how the shoulder would pull up. Fortunately for me I came out unscathed.

Gitani- A lot of visualizing. I always like to picture potential scenarios that might occur during the game. Just different things that make you that 1% sharper.

3.    What was the game plan going in to the match and how much did you alter it by half time?

Coach Wag- Game plan was simple. Run and carry and hold possession where possible for as long as possible. We always set out on the offensive to attack and make an early impact on the scoreboard and to set the tone for the rest of the match. At half time we were more focused on our player rotations and heat policy as the players had a big second half to put into and we needed them as fresh as possible.

4.    Are you superstitious in any way in that you have pre-game rituals?

Haddad– No not really, just keep my thoughts and prayers in god’s hands and try do the best I can when I go out on the ground. I try to keep it that way in just about every aspect of my life I guess.

      Gitani- Yes, Pasta before a game has been a pre-game ritual since junior footy days!

5.    Up until the second term it was obvious that the midfield was struggling to hit the frustrated forward targets. Why do you believe this was a problem and how did the team come together to fix it?

Haddad- The SA boys pressure really got to us and it created lots of turnovers. I think we also over-killed with all the hand balls rather than look for our long targets up in the forward. Our coaching staff had a word to us at half time to address the issue and had complete faith in us to fix it.

Gitani- Credit to South Australia’s midfield for putting a lot of pressure on our ball carriers. This caused us to over use the footy by one or two extra possessions which caused us to rush our kicks when going forward. The problem was resolved after quarter time when Coach Wag instructed us to break the lines and kick long and deep to our key forwards.

Coach Wag- It’s actually not a bad thing, the frustration I mean. The key forwards were hungry for the ball and when shots and passes are sprayed it can affect the team morale but more importantly the individuals confidence level at the most crucial time. This is where your leaders step in and pat them on the back and reassure them that all is well and try this or try that next time and stay positive. The vibe throughout the team was professional and at a strong level of confidence and belief in each other.

The boys huddle close to hear coach Wag's orders

The boys huddle close to hear coach Wag’s orders

6.    Pierre talk us through that sealer you kicked. Less than 3 minutes to go and you’ve marked strongly at this point was going through your head?

Haddad- I just tried to block all my surroundings and tried to concentrate on what I had to do.  I knew if id kick it’d put us in good stead.  I just kept telling myself I had to kick it and fortunately for me and the boys it went through.

7.    Those last 2 minutes were pretty intense! Where were you on the ground? What could you feel, see, hear happening around you?  Describe your emotions.

Gitani- I was playing high half forward/wing at that time. A lot of us were fatigued at that stage and didn’t have much left in our tanks. South Australia got on a momentum run and had kicked three quick goals in less than 5 minutes. There were a lot of turnovers but we managed to lock the ball in a few times which ran some time off the clock. Thankfully the siren went when it did.

Haddad- Funny enough as a forward, I found myself in our back 50. I was on the half-back flank trying to help the team flood back. At this point I think all the boys were feeling it and all I wanted was that siren to sound.

Coach Wag- Bordering on uncontrollable! I didn’t want to watch but had too and it was almost like every little clanger every little thing that went against us was exasperated by 100 times. A lot of our senior players really stood up in that period and just controlled the tempo of the match to our teams benefit. Some cool heads on the field, can’t say we had the same off it!

8.    What’s the best piece of advice coach Wag has given you?
Gitani- Wag is full of great advice. The best advice he has personally given me was to not go out the night before a match. A few others and I made a big mistake the previous year in Adelaide!  (Cough* cough* Jason Khouri) :P 

The players get  revenge. That's for making them run all those laps coach!

The players get revenge. That’s for making them run all those laps coach ice cubes down the shirt!


9.    Siren sounds, you’ve won back the State of Origin title! Any reflections you’d like to share with the readers?

Haddad- Coming into the game i was doubtful we’d come off with the win. The boys from SA were always going to be a challenge for us considering the size and height advantage they had on us. All of that made me very was unsure with how my shoulders would of pull up after it. Great to get the win and its definitely something I’ll look back at be proud of.

10.   Joe one of my readers is dying to know, how do you maintain your pearly white Colgate smile?
Gitani- Easy! Make sure you visit a dentist at least twice a year. Brush with a Colgate 360 +tongue cleaner toothbrush, Floss with Colgate Total mint waxed dental floss and gargle with Colgate Plax whitening mouthwash…Last of all SMILE! :D

 11.  If you were an AFL player who would you be and why?

Haddad- I would be marc murphy. Strong leader, with great skills and plays for the best AFL team.

Gitani- Travis Varcoe of Geelong. Not only is he my favorite player, I try to mold my game style around his. I love to chase, tackle and keep the pressure on the opposition with my speed. Don’t mind a goal either!

12.  Who do you think will play in the 2014 Grand Final and who is your tip for the flag?

Coach Wag- I called Fremantle from the start of 2013 and I will go out on a limb and say that we will see a Grand Final replay of 2013 with the Dockers winning by less than a goal. Hawthorn and Fremantle in my view are miles ahead of pack…..P.S. Go Blues!

Haddad- I say it every year and it will never change. Carlton in the granny and Carlton for the flag- have to stay positive always.

Gitani- A little biased here. Geelong vs Fremantle in the Grand Final with Geelong victorious. Go Cats!

About Danielle Eid

Im 23, cute and most importantly im the Collingwood Football Club's very own PRINCESS!! :) A Latrobe Uni graduate from Bachelor of Journalism. Admirer of Samantha Lane and Jon Ralph. Not your typical 'Robot Journalist' Loves Alex Fasolo

Leave a Comment