Matt Peet: Find out more about the man leading Wigan Warriors into their 150th year
Warriors’ new head coach Matt Peet believes his family upbringing helped to form his love for rugby league.
The head coach, who was appointed earlier this year, says he is proud of where he comes from, having grown up in Hindley and attended Mornington High School.
From an early age, Peet says rugby was a key part of his life and something he was surrounded by.
“It was very much something my family life was built round,” he said. “My grandad was a rugby man, and my mum had five brothers, who all played.
“For as long as I can remember I was being taken to Central Park, as well as playing, so it just went from there.
“I wouldn’t say I was a very talented player, but I would always give it everything I had, and was very interested in the game.
“I always enjoyed being amongst it and making friends. I always feel as if I was a good team member and one of the lads. One thing I know is, I always played to my best and just enjoyed the ride.”
Peet initially played for Hindley, before moving to St Williams and St Pats, as well as appearing for Wigan town teams and Lancashire.
During this time a few players in particular stood out to him as well as some inspiring coaches.
“Gaz Hock was probably the best player in my age group at the time, I was good mates with him growing up,” he revealed. “I was also the year below Sean O’Loughlin, so I always saw a lot of him playing as a kid.
“I had a few coaches who had a massive impact on me. I was coached by a fella called Cliff Peters, and his whole approach was very organised and very professional, even from a young age.
“It was really basic stuff, we wore a shirt and tie, we’d get written game plans and training programmes.
“That was at 12 years old, professional but in an amateur context. He would’ve coach so many great players over the years, and people like him are really important.”
Peet started coaching a junior team in his spare time, while studying English at Manchester Metropolitan University.
“Once I realised I wasn’t going to play at the highest level, I decided to concentrate on my coaching and my studies,” continued Peet, for whom reading has been a constant in his life and something he is tries to use his advantage in rugby.
“I’ve always been a big reader, whether that’s novels or non-fiction. Most recently it has been books around coaching and business organisation and leadership.
“My favourite book is called ‘The Obstacle Is The Way’ by Ryan Holiday. There is another one too, called ‘You Win In The Locker Room First’. I read a lot on historic philosophy.
“I started off reading because I was interested, the obvious ones are autobiographies by coaches, but I think you can learn more from books about leadership and general approaches to life.
“I look at how I can bring things like psychology and philosophy into my coaching. Anything around culture or communication skills have an obvious effect on building trust.”
After being a coach at Westhoughton, Peet got involved with Wigan’s scholarship set-up.
During this stage, he began coaching players like Connor Farrell, Dom Manfredi and Sam Powell at junior level.
“I’ve taken a similar path as a player would, whereas when someone starts off, they don’t picture themselves playing in the Super League or for Wigan,” he said.
“It sort of evolves and happens that way. I started off purely coaching for fun, but as I became more invested and spent more time, it developed.
“You set out with the love of the game, and it’s important you keep that fun in your job, even when it becomes professional. We want everyone to come in and play with a smile on their face.”
Despite wanting his players to enjoy themselves, Peet emphasises the importance of making it tough.
“When people say you’re a hard coach, I say it’s a hard game,” he added. “For me to show care for my players and best prepare them, training has to be tough.
“The game is disciplined, so you need to be disciplined. I’m just doing my best preparing them for a brutal sport.
“If you don’t train with intensity, you are doing your players a disservice. The honesty and feedback is because we want to get the best out of our players. To do this job well, you have to work hard.”
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