Soldiers help NRL players tackle teamwork

In the lead-up to the 2024 NRL season, the North Queensland Cowboys participated in a leadership and team-building camp with the Army as part of their pre-season training.

Facilitated by the Combat Training Centre and 3rd Brigade at Lavarack Barracks, Townsville, it focused on building qualities needed to win.

Led by the team’s new co-captains, the coaches and players practised cohesion, adaptiveness, agility, robustness, resilience and other characteristics of high-performing teams.

Some activities included a rope shuffle run, pool survival scenarios, and simulated indoor combat drills with sensory deprivation.

With a focus on team cohesion, the training was designed to build confidence in new leaders to make decisions under pressure.

Warrant Officer Class One (WO1) Matt Lines said the aim was to instil a leadership mindset in the players, and define what leadership meant to the team.

“There was a distinct shift in the way the team had been vocal as a large group, progressing to listening to their leaders and respecting what they we’re being asked to do,” WO1 Lines said.

North Queensland Cowboys co-captain Reuben Cotter said communication was one of the key learnings for the players.

“During the simulated indoor combat drill, I delegated specific tasks, as we didn’t have great visibility or hearing, which meant clear communication was integral,” Mr Cotter said.

“Working together was the only way we could achieve the objective.”

North Queensland Cowboys head coach Todd Payten said the Army training offered specific benefits for elite athletes, and that there were similarities between soldiers and players.

“Whether it be sport or the Defence Force, each individual needs to display characteristics of teamwork and being selfless to perform well,” Mr Payten said.

“It was great to see the team under a bit of pressure. The leaders really stepped up to take command of the group and execute the various tasks.

“The players in charge seemed comfortable and led from the front with clear instruction.”

Public media release

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