Three-time Parramatta Premiership winner John Muggleton has ditched the Eels’ Blue & Gold for the Emus’ Black & Gold as the 2020 Shute Shield season fast approaches.
The 60-year-old, who won premierships with the Eels in 1981, 1982 and 1986, will coach the revived Penrith Emus this season after they were reinstated into Sydney’s top rugby competition last month following two years in the wilderness.
Muggleton, who is also the brother-in-law of Parramatta legend Peter Sterling, said he’s spent a lot of time in Penrith over the years through his previous role at the Australian Rugby Union.
“Jack Gibson (former Eels coach) always used to threaten us with putting us on the bus to Penrith back in the ‘80s, but things are a lot different now,” he told the Weekender.
“When I was with the ARU I spent a few pre-seasons at Nepean Rugby Park with the Emus doing some work with them. During that part of the year there wasn’t a lot happening with the Wallabies, so I was able to put in some time there.”
Muggleton – a well-known defensive specialist – is a huge coup for the new and improved Emus, who have traditionally struggled big time to defend teams over the years.
The former NSW Origin player said he’s doing his best to teach his side the fundamentals of both attack and defence, but it’s been tricky due to social distancing restrictions.
“We’re bedding down some patterns and independent moves and skills but it’s all being done without defence, which is a bit problematic,” he said.
“In footy, you react to what the defence does and you look for holes in the defence to attack, so without defence there isn’t a lot of decision-making going on.”
Fortunately for the Emus they’ll have an extra week to fine tune their skills with Sydney Rugby Union scheduling them a bye in the opening round on July 18.
“Having the bye in Round 1 will be important for us, we certainly got lucky there,” Muggleton said.
“I believe we play all the Finals teams from last season in the first five weeks, so it’s going to be a tough introduction for us.”
The Emus will open their season against Northern Suburbs on July 25.
Nathan Taylor is the Weekender’s Deputy Editor and Senior Sports Writer. He also compiles the weekly Chatter on the Box TV column. Nathan is an award-winning journalist, who has worked at the Weekender for nearly a decade.