Maguire brings in legendary ‘no dickheads’ All Blacks guru to give the Blues a mental edge for Origin mission


Gilbert Enoka, the bare-footed New Zealander who reinvigorated the All Blacks, has emerged as Michael Maguire’s secret weapon for the Blues’ mission to reclaim the State of Origin shield from Queensland.

Enoka, who describes himself as a mental skills coach, has a 21-year history with the All Blacks and is credited for playing a large part in turning them around from being perennial chokers to one of the most dominant teams in world sport.

He has also woerked with English Premier League powerhouse Chelsea, the Canterbury Crusaders, Silver Ferns and New Zealand’s men’s cricket team.

According to a Sydney Morning Herald report, Maguire knows him from his time as Kiwi coach and Enoka has been in the NSW camp at the Blue Mountains this week, giving the players insight on how they can mentally prepare themselves for the daunting challenge ahead.

The Blues have lost the past two series to Queensland since Billy Slater took the helm as coach and coincidentally, the Maroons mentor worked with Enoka during his legendary playing career with the Melbourne Storm.

“He did his first presentation and my eyes were glued to him – I really loved his aura and his message,” NSW five-eighth Jarome Luai told the SMH.

A former volleyball player and PE coach, Enoka instilled a missing mental edge to the All Blacks after they suffered from stagefright at World Cups despite being the most dominant rugby side outside of the tournaments, which reached its nadir in 2007 when they were bundled out in the quarter-finals.

Mental skills coach Gilbert Enoka. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Enoka famously introduced a “no dickheads policy” because, in his words, “a dickhead makes everything about them”.

“You can have all the strategies in the world, but in the end, what will enable you to overachieve – or underachieve – is your culture,” he told Adidas’s Gameplan A magazine in a 2017 interview.

“A dickhead makes everything about them. Often teams put up with it because a player has so much talent. We look for early warning signs and wean the big egos out pretty quickly. Our motto is, if you can’t change the people, change the people.”

The All Blacks went on to win the 2011 and 2015 World Cups with Enoka part of the set-up. He ended his association with them last year.

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