Ben Flower owes a debt of gratitude to South Sydney coach Anthony Seibold – the man who helped him adjust to rugby league a decade ago!
Aussie Seibold was the assistant coach at Bridgend-based Celtic Crusaders when they lured Flower away from a promising rugby union career.
Seibold has succeeded Michael Maguire as coach of Souths – who Wigan meet in Saturday’s double-header at Sydney’s ANZ Stadium.
Flower, who moved to Wigan in 2012, has developed into arguably Shaun Wane’s best prop but he has never forgotten who helped guide him at the start of his 13-a-side adventure.
“Anthony was there from the beginning for me as a coach,” revealed Flower.
“Him and John Dixon were the first two coaches I’d ever had in rugby league, so it will be nice to go back and be able to see him.
“I’ve not seen him for a number of years now, but he helped me out a lot.
“He took a lot of risks with me, being a rugby union lad and for him to help me and guide me as a young lad was good of him.
“They took me back down to basics and taught me how to play the game. I didn’t have much of a clue.”
Flower toyed with rugby league as a teenager after going along to Cardiff to watch Wigan’s Challenge Cup final defeat to St Helens in 2004 when he was aged 16.
“I know I’d played the game previous to (Crusaders), when I was about 16, but there wasn’t much knowledge. It was basically passing a ball, running and tackling whoever’s in front of you!” said the 30-year-old.
“But learning the game after that was down to Anthony and John helping me along.
“They took a punt on me, worked with me and I’ve never looked back.”
Seibold left Crusaders when they relocated to Wrexham and went on to work as an assistant coach at Melbourne, Manly and Souths, as well as with the Queensland State of Origin side, before stepping into the Rabbitohs hot-seat.
“Leaving Crusaders was probably the best thing that ever happened to him, but at the time it would have been the worst, losing a job,” said Flower, who scored a try in the 24-10 win against Hull FC last Saturday.
“To see him shoved out the way he was, after the way he’d helped me out... I can’t tell you how pleased I was to see him progress and see him coaching with the Origin squad.
“From finishing bottom of Super League with Crusaders, to now becoming head coach at one of the best teams in the world, it is an unbelievable achievement.
“It’s perfect, really, to see how well he’s gone on.
“It’ll be good to catch up because he’s a great bloke as well.”