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PROTRACK » GENERAL » Dean Benton - new Performance Director at the Brumbies

Dean Benton - new Performance Director at the Brumbies

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Former VAL athlete Dean Benton has just been appointed to the Performance Director's role at the ACT Brumbies.

League players fitter, new Brumbies director says

Canberra Times
09 Jul, 2011

Elite rugby union players still have a way to go to catch up with the athleticism of their rugby league peers, according to new ACT Brumbies athletic performance director Dean Benton.

The former performance director at the Brisbane Broncos has been brought in by incoming coach Jake White to help shape the players of the club's new era.

While he is only just getting to know the abilities of the Brumbies playing group, Benton said in general Super Rugby players lagged behind their counterparts in the NRL.

''To be honest, with league having been professional a long time before rugby did in 1996 they're still a fair way ahead in terms of work ethic and toughness,'' Benton said yesterday.

''That's a generalisation, that doesn't apply to every rugby player of course, but by and large rugby union can certainly take some examples from league.

''There are differences in terms of endurance qualities. By and large league players are fitter. Strength qualities would be comparable, except say for the front rows in rugby. However, I've seen Broncos front-rowers who are as strong as rugby front-rowers.''

Rugby has retained a wide variety of specialisations, most notably in its forward pack, which require very particular physical traits. Benton said raising the fitness levels of Brumbies players couldn't come at the expense of them being able to do their core jobs, such as scrummaging or lineout jumping.

''It wouldn't necessarily be desirable to take a Super Rugby player and match fitness levels of a rugby league player. However, there are some similarities they should be trying to match.''

Despite the club itself conceding its Griffith facilities are about the worst in Australia, Benton said he was happy enough with the resources at his disposal.

''At the end of the day, nothing will take the place of quality systematic coaching. Facilities and money certainly aren't the answer and there's been numerous examples of organisations with plenty of money and fantastic facilities all to no avail.

''The Brumbies aren't a rich organisation, as everyone would know, but they've invested very wisely in the people and the programs.''

Since 2002 Benton has worked for a range of elite Australian sporting bodies, including Athletics Australia, the AIS, the Canberra Raiders, the ARU and the Broncos. He has spent a season with British rugby club the Leicester Tigers.

Since parting ways with the Broncos in 2010 Benton has worked as a consultant, including with Olympic swimming gold medallist Stephanie Rice.

He brings a tough and at times abrasive style to the Brumbies, which he said was part of the role.

''It requires broad style of leadership, at times autocratic, at times diplomatic, at times lassez-faire with some of the older, more responsible players. At the end of the day you're only asking them to do what is required,'' he said. ''As a rule the best coaches aren't always popular, but they're respected.''

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