Getting to know you: Joe Grima

Passionate, loyal and a perfectionist would be the ideal words to describe Malta?s national coach Joe Grima. Modest and fanatical could be two others.

?I learnt so much from my former head coach from 2 years ago, Matt Cameron. He taught me the small but important issues about rugby league, and taught me that I could only control some things; the other things are controlled by my players?

?Brian Smith has helped me through my career and is always posing challenges to me. He provides answers too?

Learning the ropes of rugby league coaching, 31-year-old Grima took the coaching route through companion and Parramatta Eels football manager Tony Zappia, but the diminutive character in Grima has had a love for rugby league from as far back as the days back in Tamworth as a child.

?I started out as a trainer and soon coached the same side the following year. I?ve coached ever since?

?I supported Parramatta when I was a child, only because my big brother did?

?Ben Elias was my favourite player. He changed rugby league by his instinctive dummy half work and revolutionized kicking from dummy half? an excited Grima enlightens.

Losing his mother at a young age brought on the move to the hustle and bustle of life in Sydney where Grima would represent NSW CCC and Wests Magpies at Under 21 level.

?Mum passed away and all of my Dad?s family lived in Sydney, hence the move?

?Dependently, I have fallen in love with this great game. It would not have mattered where I was brought up?

Grima already boasts an impressive rugby league resume that includes leading the Parramatta Harold Matthews team through an undefeated season in 2004 culminating in a premiership victory before his selection as national coach of Malta.

?I must admit I?ve had some quality players while coaching at Parramatta. I am very strong on discipline and encourage ?extra?s?

?I plan all my training sessions very carefully and am a believer in player review and payers feedback. I make the players aware of their errors and continue to make them better players. My play structure is expansive and exciting, how rugby league should be played?

?I ensure my players have a mixed balance of ?fun time? and ?work time? at training and often use unconventional training methods to give more variety?

Pride and passion are a noticeable factor in Grima?s coaching of both his Parramatta and Malta representative teams and Joe would be the first to admit he can be a bit of a sook when things heat up on the footy field.

?I am very passionate about rugby league and would spend up to 10 hrs a week (not including training sessions) preparing and reviewing our opposition?

?I?m probably a sook?I get so excited and feel like I am one of the players. It is not un-common you will get a tear or two? admits Grima.

Grima speaks highly of current NRL stars including Vella, Cayless, Wilson and Halatau who have taken gospel from Grima?s wise innovative coaching.

?You can tell which players are going all the way. Mick Vella, Nathan Cayless, John Wilson, Dean Halatau just to name a few all made it late in their career, like I?ve said before, practice, practice and practice?

?They are ?sponges?, they take everything in and perform the coaches? instructions on the field?

Parramatta supporters are in for a positive future if Grima?s promise for their juniors is anything to go by.

?Kris Keating, Jarryd Hanes, Kris Inu and Nathan Tannous will make it to grade. All four are exceptional athletes and have amazing skill and speed? prides Grima.

?Mark these names down in your black book!? Grima affirms.

?I wouldn?t be surprised if another one or two from my SG Ball team sneak in to grade too?

Joe Grima is a firm believer that perfect practice makes perfect.

?Practice, practice and practice?

?I have seen players at the 15 and 16yr old levels not make rep teams through talent and special ability (size, speed, skill and ?savvy?). The bench line players show more determination and continue to practice and keep on practicing and those players are the players who go all the way. So practice, practice and practice?

It?s ironic that Joe is in very much a similar position in regards to his future coaching ambitions and it?s no secret that his dream would be to coach rugby league at the highest level.

?I?d love to continue up the coaching ladder via a successful SG Ball season and onto Jersey Flegg next year?

?I would love the opportunity to coach first grade?to reach this goal in 5 or so years?

Parramatta Eels SG Ball & Malta Knights International Head Coach Joe Grima?s happy go lucky nature is special?as he utters famous words of Malta?s assistant coach Tony Farr as the best advice he?s been given.

?Worry about your own backyard first? Farr once told Grima.

Joe Grima was more than happy to answer some questions submitted by rugby league supporters over the past few weeks.

Malta and Parramatta aside, is there a team that you support? Chris Galea Greystanes Yes. Chris I support the Brisbane Broncos. I love the way they play and think Wayne Bennett is such a great coach, evidenced by the length of time at the club.

How do you think Malta will rate when the challenge for the next World Cup? Jason Zammit Gympie Jason, I think the hardest thing before we get to the world cup is to qualify. Just in that qualification round we will face Greece, Italy, Lebanon etc. These teams have been established for 10 years plus. I am confident that the Malta Knights will qualify against these teams, and regardless of how we go after against the ?big? nations, we have already won. I really do think the Malta Knights can compete with more established teams as evidenced when we played Fiji A last year.

Who will Malta be challenging in their first fixture in Malta (October 2005)? P.S- Good luck Brendan Oatley South Leeds Brendan, the team is yet to be announced. This is currently being negotiated between the MRLA and International Rugby League Board. It will probably be Serbia, Scotland or a British team of some sorts. We won?t know for sure for another couple of months or so.

What chance has Malta got of making the World Cup? David Surry Hills David we do have a tough road ahead, but I truly believe we can qualify for the World Cup. We are creating a massive database and have some talented player to choose from.

How are Parramatta SG Ball going this season? Adam Dundas We are currently running first with a few teams on our tail. It was my goal two finish in the top 4. We will achieve that and go on to the finals. I think my team has a good shot for the title, but have a lot of young players. In my squad of 25 players, 13 are a year young.

What can you tell us about Kris Inu? Is he/when will he be ready for 1st grade? Phil Merrylands Phil, I hope you have seen this kid play. He already played Under 20?s last year and will play 20?s after our regular season. He has plenty of potential and I think go all the way. Played 3 games this year due to injury and has scored 7 tries.

6 guests you?d like to invite to dinner if you had the chance? Wayne Bennett, Tiger Woods, Jonah Lomu, Angelina Jolie, David Beckham and Adriana my fianc?e, she is an amazing cook.

Down to your last $50, what do you do? Try to double it at the TAB. I love a punt!