Harbin is firmly focused on the future
IF CQ Capras' coach Lionel Harbin is disappointed at not being named head coach of the club next year, he's not showing it. While he always knew his was an interim appointment, he is yet to make a decision on his future with the Capras. But wise heads are counselling him to stay on, under new head coach Kim Williams.
"I'm still to decide on what I will do," Harbin revealed.
"I haven't been given a deadline, but I'll make a decision in the next couple of weeks.
"A couple of mentors who I speak with regularly are advising me to stay on as assistant coach and learn from Kim's experience. I mean, he has a great track record. He took the Cutters to the premiership in his first year and they're in the hunt for a semis spot this season. So, he has the runs on the board and I can learn a lot from Kim."
So despite the decision pending, Harbin's attention is all about the Capras' tough assignment against Intrust Super Cup (ISC) leaders, the Townsville Blackhawks, tonight and the games which follow.
"My main focus is getting on with the rest of this year," Harbin said. "We still have half a season to go."
And what would he like to achieve in the last half of the season as Capras' head coach?
"To be honest, it's not about results," he said candidly.
"That might sound silly, or surprise people, but what it's all about each week is for each player to improve. I want our players to play to the very best of their ability. If that happens, it might get us a few wins. But really it's about blokes improving as rugby league players, both individually and as a team. Our focus is about developing our group of players for the future of the club."
That seems to be at the heart of the Capras' issue. The players.
"In a perfect world we would get players back when they are contracted in the NRL," Harbin said.
"At the moment we don't. I don't want to make excuses. This has been going on for some time. I'm not the first coach to go through it."
What that means is Harbin is having to draw on younger players who at other clubs would still be a season or two away from ISC. But he is quick to point out that does have its advantages.
"I'm playing kids from the local area, four of them are just teenagers," Harbin said.
"These young blokes are regularly playing against teams with NRL-contracted players. They are fully professional rugby league players. My entire first grade side has no full-time professionals. Everyone works full-time.
"But these kids, they are just so positive. That's the advantage of having a young side. Their attitude is great, they are always positive. They front up week after week and it's great having them around. They're so enthusiastic; they just want to play footy."
Although Harbin will never say it, it's obvious there is an imbalance in the ISC. And that might well be on display again tonight. Harbin concedes tonight's clash will be a challenge and that's how he wants his players to respond.
"I want the boys to see it as a challenge," Harbin said.
"It's a great opportunity for them to really test themselves.
"They will learn a lot from this match, no matter what the outcome."