Tough as teak performance coach John Harbin will head back to the UK soon for another coaching stint.
Tough as teak performance coach John Harbin will head back to the UK soon for another coaching stint. Allan Reinikka ROK211212arustler

HARBIN: What's next for Rocky super coach?

FOOTBALL: There's life left in the old warhorse that is John Harbin.

Now 70, the legendary coach and performance manager is showing no signs of slowing down.

The former Rockhampton man and ex-coach of the CQ Capras, who was in town seeing family recently, caught up with The Morning Bulletin on his latest endeavours.

Living in Leeds, half a world away, Harbin is set to join another English League One club (which can't be revealed due to contrary issues).

Despite starting his coaching career in the 1960s, Harbin has adapted his game for today's generations and incredibly is involved in 90% of his own sessions.

 

John Harbin at the gym with one of the young people he is helping.
John Harbin at the gym with one of the young people he is helping. Allan Reinikka

"I am physically in better shape than I was at 40," Harbin, whose gruelling workouts which became stuff of legend, stated.

"I train every day. Swim a mile, I row six kilometres, do sessions on the bike and four days of gym a week.

"The only thing I can't do is the running part, my left knee feels 100 years old."

Harbin's career is as momentous as it is lengthy. He has been to the biggest grounds, coached massive names and learned from the best mentors in the game.

Aside from a couple-year stint back in Central Queensland, Harbin has spent the last 18 years in England. Oldham, Crystal Palace, Charlton, Coventry, QPR, Port Vale, Plymouth Argyle and Northhampton all benefiting from his coaching arsenal.

But he says he gets just as big a thrill from the no-names than the household superstars.

"The name on the back of the jersey means nothing... it is very easy to name drop but I am not like that," he said.

 

Capras coach John Harbin addresses players before the season.
Capras coach John Harbin addresses players before the season. Chris Ison ROK141111ccapras3

"I get as much of a thrill in coaching the young fellas who don't make the cut as I do for the ones that do.

"They all call me Uncle John over there, and I love it. I have made a lot of friends in my time.

"My masters in psychology has helped a lot. You have to move with the times. I am in charge of blood tests, fitness, diets, meal plans.

"It is not the old school style like it used to be, I had to move on with the times."

For Harbin, the major downside to working abroad is obvious. It is family he misses the most.

"I look forward to coming home, and I dread leaving. It is getting harder and harder going back and leaving the my family," he admitted.

Harbin also won a premiership with Yeppoon Seagulls in 2009, confessed he struggled to adapt to both the climate and life itself being back in the country.

 

FINAL WORKOUT: Former Central Queensland Capras coach John Harbin pushes young Khalil Waterton to do one more workout lift before he jets off to England to take up a new life and career.
FINAL WORKOUT: Former Central Queensland Capras coach John Harbin pushes young Khalil Waterton to do one more workout lift before he jets off to England to take up a new life and career. Austin King

His time at the Capras didn't end the way he wanted, but he holds no ill-will to the club.

"Like any club I struggled to go from professional set-ups to semi-professional," he said.

"The climate was tough too. I am very grateful for Rocky Rugby League and my time here. But I did find it difficult to settle back into a small town."

Until he officially embarks on his next challenge, rest assured, his tough as teak attitude will never change.



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