Q&A with Ben Lazenby
Warrington Wolves is almost unrecognisable from when Squadbuilder was first set up in 2002. We’ve made huge strides in all areas of the club; from the playing side to commercial revenues and The Halliwell Jones Stadium .
One key area of importance is player development and performance. At the Wolves, this is managed by Ben Lazenby, Player Performance Manager.
We spoke to Ben to learn a little bit more about his role and the impact he has on our young players:-
Squadbuilder: Ben, could you tell us a bit about your background? When did you join the club and where did you come from?
Ben: I joined the club in September 2008 from the RFL where I was employed as a club and coach development officer – a role where I was responsible for coach development across Merseyside including Widnes and St Helens, from inexperienced amateur coaches, through to elite performance coaches working in a professional environment, prior to that I was employed as Wigan and Leigh Rugby League Service Area Coordinator, this job involved creating player and coach pathways into the professional game but also working alongside clubs, coaches, volunteers and referees to create a stronger game in the Wigan and Leigh Area.
Whilst employed as the Service Area Coordinator I was also team manager for the Wigan Warriors reserve team who were minor premiers that year. I have had the fortune of working with some smart, inspirational and knowledgeable people within the roles above including Dean Bell, Shaun Wane, Brian Foley, Mike Rush, Stuart Wilkinson, Steve McCormack, Vinny Webb, and Steve Wood.
Squadbuilder: What does the role of player performance manager entail?
Ben: My role at Warrington is to oversee the development of the academy U19 and U16 programme and players, and to put in place a structured and consistent pathway for junior players to progress to first grade and strive towards international honours. Alongside the Director of youth we put in place the structures for the development and improvement of players in their footballing ability, athletic development but most importantly for us, the development for those players as people.
Squadbuilder: How does your role link in with Tony Smith’s role as head of coaching of rugby?
Ben: We obviously want to identify the best players to progress through to Tony’s first grade squad so there is a lot of communication about what players Tony is looking for, what type of people he wants in his squad, as well as what positional/skill/playing requirements they must have. Having a good culture and our philosophy of developing good people is key to the progression of players into the first team squad, as much as the ability of those who progress.
Squadbuilder: What are the key “values” that the club tries to instil into young players?
Ben: We have worked very hard to create a strong, disciplined culture in which players will be challenged but can feel that they can also challenge us as coaches and development staff. The key values that we instil are Honesty, Trust, Loyalty, Respect, Discipline, Leadership, having good morals, being a good role model and a good person.
Squadbuilder: Big end to the season coming up. Dare we ask who your tip is for Grand Final glory….?
Squadbuilder would like to thank Ben for his time in answering our questions.