Interview with Outback Head Coach John Leijten

Outbackgridiron.com caught up with Coach Leijten to talk about the Outback training camp and the World cup selections that followed after the camp. 

Outbackgridiron.com
Coach Leijten the training camp in February was the first time you saw all the Outback players together. What was your first impression?

Coach Leijten
It was great to see all the invited players together on a football field. Early on in our meetings we noticed that we had a group of focused individuals.

Outbackgridiron.com
In this group of 40 players you have a great mixture of older and younger players. Was age a factor is selecting the players?

Coach Leijten
No, not at all. We selected the best players. When I was scouting European players for the NFL Europe age was always an issue because we wanted the players young enough so they could improve and finally compete as professionals. Although the Outback players still need to improve we also need players with experience who are good enough now. We also have younger players on the team who have great potential and over the course of the next 5 months and long term will physically develop into fine football players.

Outbackgridiron.com
Out of 64 players you have to pick 45 who will travel to Europe. How did you go about selecting them?

Coach Leijten
Well, before the players came to camp we knew more or less what their athletic ability was because they have been tested frequently. After every practice we watched the practice film and evaluated practice and the players. After a couple of practices we created a depth chart by position. After picking the first 40 players it is very difficult to select the next 5 players, we not only need to add depth but we also try to pick the best players possible.

Outbackgridiron.com
What was your schedule like at the training camp?

Coach Leijten
Each day we had 2 or 3 meetings to install our offense and defense, watch practice film and had 2 practices a day on the field. We worked the players very hard and they responded very well. All players where up to the challenge and were eager to prove themselves. We finished the camp with a scrimmage on the Monday. Many thanks go out to the QLD referees who helped us to make the scrimmage a game like situation.

Outbackgridiron.com
What will be next on your calendar after you have picked the 45 players who will travel to Europe?

Coach Leijten
We have to keep preparing as a staff and the players have their work cut out for them with running and lifting. All our players have physically improved over the last year and they will keep doing that besides working on technique and studying our systems. As a staff we also have to prepare our next camp. This will probably start on the 25th of June and we will fly to Europe from there.

Outbackgridiron.com
Thank you Coach Leijten for your time and good luck preparing for the World Cup.

by Sam Weller