When the new coach of Dubai Hurricanes was invited, for one week only, to be part of Eddie Jones’ England staff, he knew it would be the opportunity of a lifetime. And a challenging one, too.
Jones is notoriously demanding, sleep averse, and often spiky, but also one of the most fertile minds the sport has known.
It is no surprise Rocky Truter has returned to the UAE loaded with ideas to help lift Hurricanes back towards the top of West Asia rugby.
The South African was part of England’s coaching team leading up to the unofficial Test against the Barbarians at Twickenham on Sunday.
His brief included taking full part in coaching meetings, assessing training sessions, and assisting with strategy, including on game day.
He mixed with the great and greater of rugby. On his phone, he now has good luck messages for the Hurricanes ahead of the new season from each of Marcus Smith, Jonny Wilkinson, and Jones himself.
Will Carling, the former England captain, was in camp providing masterclasses on leadership.
Even Steve Hansen, the World Cup-winning former New Zealand coach, made a guest appearance, having traveled to the UK to see his racehorse compete at Ascot.
Truter said he was a long way out of his comfort zone – and grateful for it.
“Eddie would pick our brains and put us on the spot inside team meetings,” Truter said.
“I arrived a day late, went straight into the training session. As we were walking away from the session, we had a meeting and immediately he put me on the spot, asking what I thought about the session and how I would improve it.
“All the coaches are sitting there, waiting for your feedback, and it is hard. I didn’t know the terminology they were using.
“I had to look at the training session, write things down, and see if I could make out what they were doing.
“Eddie is a very sharp, funny guy, but also strict in how he runs it. I could feel the tension among the coaches inside the team meetings, but every so often he would break that.
“It was fun to see how he controlled the temperature of the whole show.”
Truter’s late arrival was due to a delay in the processing of his visa. He only secured it with hours to go till his rescheduled flight, and he was grateful to Hurricanes’ sponsors, Emirates, for helping him out.
“I was panicked,” he said. “Since Eddie sent me the invite, I prepared. I looked into specific players that might be in the selection. I got that wrong.
“You prepare all of this, knowing you have this one shot to be in the world’s best environment. Emirates were so flexible in helping me get there.”
There are some notable contrasts between Truter’s week-long temporary role and his new permanent one in Dubai.
England are, after all, the best-resourced side in international rugby, while the Hurricanes are an amateur club in a country that remains a long way from rugby’s mainstream.
Truter is certain he will be able to implement plenty of what he learned in the UK when he starts as Hurricanes’ new coach, though.
“I was there specifically to look at how to set up a club,” Truter said.
“For me coming in at the Hurricanes now, I don’t know the history, I don’t know the culture. We have expats coming in and out who, every few years, get new jobs. Sometimes players can’t play on weekends because they have work commitments.
“How do you put it all together? It is important to change the mindset and make sure we coach them professionally.
“We can’t say, ‘Oh, it is just an amateur game. People love it, they pay their subs, then play and have to have fun.’
“We need to be as professional as we can be, even if it is going to extremes.”
Truter has every day of the forthcoming season planned out, on a schedule which Jones and Hansen helped him fine tune.
Hurricanes training sessions will be on video, with feedback sent to the players with footage to illustrate the points. He plans to use GPS tracking, too.
He also has plans beyond the training field, too. His ideas are in the spirit of some of those which Jones applies with England.
The Australian coach sends some of his players for acting lessons. For those whose partners are expecting a baby, he will ensure they have culinary classes with a chef, to make sure they can cook for themselves and their family.
Truter’s idea – which was admittedly hatched before his trip to the UK – is for “Mums Off Tuesdays”.
It will allow dads to bring their children to the Hurricanes’ club rooms, have them looked after and entertained, giving mothers the evenings to themselves.
“We want them to feel the Hurricanes are supporting their husbands at training, and them, too,” Truter said.
“That is the two per cent of difference I’d like to bring into the club. We want everyone feeling like they are involved and that they don’t want to miss this.
“Obviously we want them to be a better player by the end of the year, but we also want them to be a better player after every session.”
Updated: June 24, 2022, 3:03 AM