Last Sunday I had the pleasure of interviewing Scott Sattler for rugby league site NothingButLeague.com.
The first part of the two part series is talking about how Scott became involved in the game, the 2003 Grand Final and THAT tackle.
In part 2 Scott will talk about the Panthers chances, Anthony Griffin and Matt Moylan as captain.
We hope to see Scott at one of our events in the near future.
Question 1: What made you take up Rugby League?
Well I suppose it was pretty easy to me. My path was pretty well set when I was born because having a father who played for South Sydney for so many years, I basically grew up in the dressing shed.
A lot of sons of former rugby league players have probably taken the same path as well. Where from as early as I can remember, sitting in dressing sheds, as a three, four, five-year old being around the rugby league environment.
Basically it’s all I’ve ever wanted to do. There’s not any stage where I thought about ever giving up the game.
Even when I got to the age of 16 or 17 where I started to get a little bit interest from clubs, and that’s when I decided (the game wasn’t full time then, it was still part time), I really felt I needed to go to the next level to make a possible career out of it.
And fortunately with me I basically committed my whole spare time to it and made a lot of sacrifices at the age of 17 and 18 to try to give myself the best possible shot.
So first and foremost, I was born into Rugby League and secondly I had really good mentors around me that made me realize there was something that I wanted to try to fulfill.
Question 2: Was it hard to live in your father’s footsteps? What advice did he give you during your career?
He was never a father that really got involved too much in the sense of telling me how to play the game. And we’re two completely different players. He actually didn’t watch me play football for two years, probably through Under 14’s to Under 16’s because I had a really bad Grand Final in Under 14’s.
It was horrible, it was terrible, I was really nervous, I tripped over the banner as I ran out and it got worse from there.
I think he thought I wasn’t cut out for it. So, he didn’t really go along and watch me play league, because he didn’t really think I was ever probably going take it too seriously.
And that wasn’t anything that we discussed, really, but it was just a hobby for me.
But when he realised I really was going take it seriously, his only advice to me was if you’re going do it, be the hardest trainer. Have the hardest work ethic when it comes to training. Because if you do that, at least you’ll be ahead of everyone. And then it comes back to how you’re willing to work on your skills and with your talents.
So it’s one thing I really did. I took his advice really early on about trying to be the hardest worker when it comes to training and preparing myself well so that’s really the only advice he ever really gave me.
Following in the footsteps it was tough in the junior years. 13 to 15, not so much from the other players because they didn’t have a clue who John Sattler was, but it was more their parents.
Abuse from the sidelines. Walking in the dressing shed before and at half time and after games. And parents, not only abusing you verbally, but also physically. Physically pushing you around as 14, 15-year old. Yeah, my mum watching me as a kid faced a couple of instances where there were physical assaults on her because she was trying to stand up for me on the side on the field.
But when you get into grade no one really cares too much. Everyone’s out there to do the same job, but through those early years of 13 to 15, (I didn’t start playing till at least till I was 12). So, through the 13s to 15s, it was pretty tough seeing that.
Probably being exposed to how demeaning parents can be, for no given reason. So I would try to use it as an advantage actually because my surname wasn’t like a Smith or a Brown or anything like that, so if the name stood out and I was going to representative carnivals, I knew straight away that I was obviously going to have a lot of focus on me.
So it was, I was always going have more focus on me than others. I just try to use it as an advantage. That if I play up to my potential, maybe I’ll get selected in teams. And it wouldn’t be based on just name alone. So, yeah you can use it as a negative or a positive. I’d like to think I’d try to use. Use it as a positive mostly.
Question 3: Your NRL premiership with the Panthers in 2003 was one of your greatest achievements. What was the formula to success?
The formula to success was peeling back all the layers and going back to basics. In 1998, 1999 I felt that we should probably had a big influence on the finals at the Panthers. 2000 I thought we probably should have won and we didn’t. In 2001 we got the wooden spoon. 2002 we finished second last. So what John Lang did, the new coach, peeled it all back to basics and basically made us realise that if we start from scratch again we can only ever go up. And that’s what we did.
Even two or three rounds we were still 101 to win the premiership. We were the favorites to win the wooden spoon. So it was about peeling back the layers, going back to the basics.
Everyone knowing their role because we’re at a club where everyone was worried about the Panthers for a few years and we were worried about everyone else’s role, and I was probably guilty of it to myself.
At stages, worried about why people weren’t doing their role and when I wasn’t worried about mine, so everybody worried about your role and only your role. Do it to the best of your ability and don’t try to win the competition, just win every little battle and say that was our main focus.
The blue print to success was also about don’t ever think that you’re the easy beats of the competition. Try to be a team that people don’t enjoy playing against. And fortunately about halfway through the year, we started becoming a team where clubs knew they were going to play us they’re going have to score 30 points to beat us.
Question 4: What emotions did you experience after making that tackle, and how often does it get mentioned?
[LAUGH] It gets mentioned every day, especially by social media these days. There’s always someone making some sort of jibe or some sort of joke about it, yeah. So probably every day at least a few times a week.
The emotions when it happened were exactly what we spoke about. Our focus towards every time we play when it happened, and I still today to this day don’t think that it was anything outstanding.
I just think it was something that had to be done and that was our main focus as a rugby league team.
It was that we just had to try to win every little battle and that was put in front of us. I just thought it was a battle that I won. Let’s move on to the next battle. So you didn’t really have any high emotions about it all.
My biggest emotion was I turned around and saw my teammates running towards me and you feel as though you have played, helped your teammates in a little way.
To be quite honest, move on to the next play. It sounds a little bit clique, but that’s the sort of the and the mindset, the focus that we had. It wasn’t until everyone started making a big deal about it after the game.
I sort of thought “why’s everyone making a big deal of this, this is just something that we have to do as players”.
But I suppose it was a different emotion from me as well because this was my last game for the club. And I suppose I was always going to, wanting to leave on the best note. I had a really good relationship with the fans, and I thought with the players and the officials and the community itself.
So I just wanted to go out on a high with a win in the grand final in your last game. And then to be able to do something individually that that the fans will say hey thanks. That’s probably a different emotion, an individual emotion for later on. Really I quite like I really do enjoy revisiting.
It’s a great part of all our lives that I’ll never forget.
Follow Scott Sattler on Twitter at @ScottSattler13