Q+A with Eagles Women's Head Coach Liam Browne
Ahead of the 2023 season, Dan Fowler spoke to Sheffield Eagles Women’s Head Coach Liam Browne to recap a very successful 2022 and look forward to another big year.
DF: Liam, 2022 was an amazing year for the Eagles Women, and the club, as a whole. With a promotion under your belt and just one defeat, that must have been the stuff of dreams for yourself and the team?
LB: "Back at the start of 2022 I couldn't have dreamed of that sort of start to the women's team,"
"We didn't have many attending training initially, and I come from an American Football background so I always thought this would be an uphill struggle but was excited about the challenge.
"We kept recruiting and training, started winning and kept going. Even the loss early on is seen as a positive.
"It gave us things to work on and helped us improve. I couldn't have imagined that sort of season early on, but yeah it is the dream start."
DF: How impressive was it to see the growth of the team, both as a collective but also individually as every player saw their attributes improve?
LB: "It's so rewarding to see everyone progress and improve on the team,"
"Seeing the individuals coming into their own week after week, and then all coming together to grow as a team just shows how special this squad is, a real family.
"There's more to come though, more growth individually and as a team, but we are heading in the right direction."
DF: The team also got to play a number of games at the OLP, including a playoff semi-final in front of almost 500 people. That must be the goal for 2023 too, to get more games at the stadium and continue to excite the crowd?
LB: "We want the OLP to be our base, whether it's double headers with the men's team or even our own standalone fixtures,"
"We've shown we can draw in a crowd and love playing in that environment.
"We're still waiting for the fixtures to be released but fingers crossed for more games at the OLP.
"I know the Foundation are working hard in the background to make this happen.
DF: After the League 1 Grand Final victory, there was the Championship Playoff Final between Salford and Oulton. How much of that game did you see amongst the celebrations, as I can imagine there was still an eye on the following season almost immediately?
LB: "I'm not going to pretend I was focused on the Salford Oulton game, there were plenty of celebrations going on,"
"But I had an eye on it and was already talking about this coming season. We know we have a challenge on our hands.
"We know we need to advance our game and tactics. but I'm confident we can rise to the higher level.
DF: Lastly, it was your first season as a rugby league head coach. You had a number of people alongside you on your coaching staff, such as Dan Burt and Dan Crofts that knew the sport prior to their involvement with the team. How important were they to your own development?
LB: "It's no exaggeration to say I couldn't have done this without them,"
"The first few games were tough to manage on the sideline, managing interchanges, on field tactics, injuries and more. But then Dan Burt stepped in to help and the impact was immediate.
"Dan has a great rugby league mind and brought a knowledge of the game we were missing before. I've learnt a lot from him and I hope I've returned that and he's taken things from me.
"Then there's Dan Crofts. Already coming to watch our games then coming on board as a physio just made my job so much easier.
"I can fully rely on Dan to deal with injuries and niggles and make the decision about who's fit to play and who's not. Not to mention he also knows the game inside out and contributes to coaching discussions and brings his own ideas to the table.
"I fully trust Dan and Dan and couldn't do what I do without them.
"Let's not forget the other backroom staff though. Andrea Dobson, Hannah Whales, Becky Higgins, Chris Scullion and last year's captains Pete Lendon and Sarah Palmer. Everyone played their part and was integral to the team’s success."