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Rugby Wisdom Podcast - Nathan Grey: Australian Defense Coach, Super Rugby Winner (Coach, 2014) & Australia (35 Caps)

March 08, 2022 3 min read

July 29, 2020

Craig Wilson was born in England and is currently the men's and women's Head Coach at Yale University. Wilson was internationally capped for the Hong Kong National Team and has represented professional academies at Leicester Tigers and Northampton Saints. He has played in both the Scottish and Hong Kong premiership and coached the India National Team at both XV’s and sevens.

Nathan Grey is a 35 capped Wallaby and during this time won the World Cup in 1999. Domestically, he played 94 times for Waratahs in Super Rugby. Nathan moved into coaching in 2010 with the Rebels. In 2013, Michael Cheika brought Nathan to Waratahs and soon the team won the 2014 Super Rugby competition. Nathan continued his relationship with Cheika, and he became the Wallabies defense coach in 2015 through 2019. Nathan is now a performance coach with Australia Rugby.

Rugby Wisdom Podcast 

Nathan Grey

Craig Wilson:Welcome to Rugby Wisdom in 3, the impactful podcast that does not impact your time. My name is Craig Wilson and I’m your host. This show is all about sharing rugby wisdom and I would love it if you share this podcast with a friend. If you have not done so already, please subscribe now so you don’t miss a thing. On today’s show, I’m joined by Nathan Grey. Nathan was capped 35 times for Australia, which included winning the World Cup in ’99. In his club career, he represented the Waratahs in Super rugby on 94 occasions. As a defense coach, Nathan won Super rugby again with the Waratahs in 2014 before leading the Wallabies defense from the 2015 World Cup through to the 2019 World Cup. 

Nathan is now the high performance coach with Rugby Australia, where he works with the national teams across the whole pathway system. Nathan, welcome to the podcast. 

Nathan Grey: Cheers, Craig, mate. Looking forward to it. Thanks for having me onboard. 

Craig Wilson: Now, brilliant to have you on. Let’s jump straight into it. So, when you’re developing a player’s tackle technique, what areas do you focus on and how do you coach it? 

Nathan Grey: I really look at tackling from two perspectives. The first thing is tracking and then the second part is tackling. So, tracking is putting yourself in a position to make the tackle, and that’s something that’s often really undercoached, so encouraging players to track really well, to get themselves in a good position, is certainly one component of that tackling aspect, and then the second thing is actually making the tackle. So, probably the most important thing I think around making tackles when you’re in that zone to make that tackle is keeping your weight forward. If you keep your weight forward, you then don’t allow yourself to sit down and be dictated to by the ball carrier. By keeping your weight forward, that allows you to one, change direction really easily, and then two, get that really good step into the tackle, get that nice dip which comes from your knees, not so much your waist, that dip from your knees, and then targeting that sort of belly button low tackle focus of getting in there and being nice and aggressive. 

Stepping into the tackle is something that’s really important and that comes from having your weight forward. Ideally, you want to look to get that same shoulder, same foot stepping into that tackle. It’s not absolutely critical as long as you’re chasing your feet through the contact. If you do get that good shoulder contact and get your feet chasing through, you’re still gonna allow yourself to be nice and dominant. And then one thing that I really stress a lot is leg drive post contact. Now, from dealing with guys from that international level and Super rugby level, they all hit really hard, but what they do that split second after they make contact is the real differentiator between okay tacklers and then guys who get real good dominance. So, I talk a lot about once you make that hit, you get those legs going, and that allows you to get that dominance. 

Craig Wilson: Nathan, that is an awesome breakdown of the tackle technique. They’re all gonna find that really useful. Thanks for your time and all the best. 

Nathan Grey: Craig, appreciated the time being on board and looking forward to hearing more people getting out there and smashing each other. 

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