Coote reveals how he remodelled game
He has oozed skill since his NRL debut as a teenager but Lachlan Coote has revealed how the remodelling of his game at the North Queensland Cowboys has rejuvenated his career.
Few fullbacks have the combined natural skills of running, support play, passing and kicking as Coote but the 27-year-old insists it has been coach Paul Green’s focus on attention to detail that has made him a smarter footballer.
“Paul Green has got good intent, he is high intensity and it is good being coached by him. He has taken my game to another level,” Coote told NRL.com.
“He is big on all the little things and really harps on it, and I think that is definitely what I needed.
“As a young fella coming through Penrith, you got away with all that little stuff.”
An instinctual player, Coote said he was now more disciplined in his preparation and in his on-field play.
“It is about game awareness and doing the right things at particular times in games,” he said.
“[Green] is a smart coach and he has bred that into the boys since he has been here.”
When told of Coote’s comments on the coach’s attention to detail Green chuckled and admitted: “I probably drive him up the wall with it”.
But Green said Coote had been a willing pupil and had embraced change.
“Cootey is a naturally gifted footballer who has played his best footy when he has gone out and played off instinct so it has been about him putting a bit of thought into it when he is at his best,” Green said.
“You can’t just completely play off instinct and what is in front of you. There is always room for those guys to flourish in our game, but pretty quickly teams work you out.
“So you’ve got to know when to play with instinct and when not to and that is what Cootey has learned, that sometimes it is about playing percentages and sometimes it is about playing off instinct.
“The instinct part is natural to Cootey so you don’t want to change that too much. But you want to add what you can to that and part of that is attention to detail.”
Kalyn Ponga was breathing down Coote’s neck last season but the experienced campaigner kept the tyro at bay.
Ponga has moved to the Newcastle Knights but Coote said his presence had made him lift his own game.
“Throughout your whole career you have competition, but that was one talent that was a decent sort of talent nipping at my heels,” he said.
“The talk was all about Kalyn Ponga coming through and the club would have loved to bleed him through ... but obviously that wasn’t the case.”
Coote said he wasn’t complacent about the season ahead and the vision of Melbourne celebrating the grand final win lingered in his memory.
“That is one big thing that is going to drive me next year to be there again at October to lift that trophy again," he said.
While Coote had a calf issue during 2017, the dark days that resulted in him missing most of 2013 with a pectoral injury at Penrith and all of his first year at the Cowboys in 2014 with an ACL are behind him.
“It is always tough knowing that could be just around the corner ... but you’ve just got to play in the moment and hopefully I have passed all those major injuries now and can move on,” he said.
“I missed six weeks throughout the season and it was disappointing to miss those. It really hit home again what it is like to be injured and I hadn’t felt that in a couple of seasons.”
Coote is off contract at the end of 2018 and like every North Queensland player you speak to he wants to continue to ride the wave that has resulted in a premiership, a grand final appearance and reaching the finals the other two times in the past four seasons.
“Since I have been here I have loved every part of this club. I love the town and the fans. Hopefully we can sort something out and I can stay here another few years,” the former Panther said.
“It is one of the best moves I’ve ever made and has definitely benefitted my career and made it longer as well.”