Logan school teacher Lee Addison to coach Poland's national rugby league team

By On August 23, 2018

Logan school teacher Lee Addison to coach Poland's national rugby league team

Email Logan school teacher Lee Addison to coach Poland's national rugby league team

Updated August 24, 2018 06:55:44

Lee Addison holding a rugby league ball. Photo: Lee Addison will be in charge of Poland at the Emerging Nations World Cup. (Supplied: Lee Addison) Map: Logan Central 4114

Lee Addison is a big, straight-talking man. A bloke, as befits his chosen sport of rugby league, not normally overflowing with emotion.

This time though, he exudes a tangible sense of elation.< /p>

"I've coached lots of teams but there was a completely different feeling when I got the phone call," Addison confessed.

"I was genuinely gobsmacked."

The reason?

Addison, who works at Mabel Park State High School in Logan, in south-east Queensland, has just been made national rugby league coach of Poland, a country he has never been to.

Lee Addison's grandfather Stanislav Adasko. Photo: Lee Addison's grandfather Stanislav Adasko. (Supplied: Lee Addison)

Yet there is a very personal connection with the nation he is going to lead. His grandfather Stanislav Adasko was a Pole put into a labour camp by the Russians during World War II, who after his release fought at the Battle of A rnhem before starting a new life in England.

The structural engineer not only settled down with an Englishwoman but Anglicised himself in another way.

"My grandfather had a lot of trouble finding work … changed his name [to Stanley Addison] and got the job of his dreams straight away," Addison said.

Addison has a mere matter of weeks to put a team together and make it gel. Poland is part of the Emerging Nations World Cup in Sydney this October. The sport is in its infancy in Poland so his new side will â€" for reasons of practicality and safety â€" consist entirely of expats.

"It's a real collision sport that we play and sometimes if you get that wrong and put the wrong person in it can be embarrassing or worse, it could be dangerous," Addison said.

"It's a balancing act, if I'm still Poland coach in six years I can promise you there'll be some Poles in that side."

Three men were given the task of whittling it down to the best candidate. One of them, Alex Kowalski from Polska XIII, is convinced they made the right choice.

"He was one of only a couple that sent through a fully structured program ... to develop players here in Australia and also over in Poland," Kowalski said.

"He's had NRL experience as well at the same time."

Addison once dreamed of being a gun on the field himself but quickly realised he was more talented behind a clipboard than a play-the-ball and 12 years ago he gambled everything on coming to Australia, a move that has now paid him off and then some.

Like most things though, the journey was far from straightforward. For example, he shares with ex-Penrith Panthers' coach Anthony Griffin the dubious honour of being sacked from the club by Gus Gould.

He refused to let it dampen his spirit though.

"I don't hold any bitterness because so many good things have happened to me since then," he said.

Titans flyer Sami praises former coach Addison

One of those is producing players who have made it to the NRL, such as young Gold Coast Titans flyer Phil Sami.

Having had his schoolboy skills honed by Addison, Sami has no doubt that his former mentor has what it takes to succeed.

"Sure he'll do a great job, the boys will go good under him," Sami said, adding that the Englishman is still in touch and never afraid to put a fatherly arm around a young shoulder.

"He cared for us as a person off the field."

Phil Sami diving to score a try in the corner for the Titans. Photo: Gold Coast's Phil Sami came u nder the guidance of Lee Addison before playing in the NRL. (AAP: Dave Hunt, File)

The determination in Addison's heart is further typified by his attempts to convert a schoolboy named Michael Hooper from rugby union to rugby league.

The coach, who was teaching the now-Wallabies skipper, admitted his endeavours met stiff resistance.

"He [Hooper] looked … into the whites of my eyes and said 'I'm a union man, that's my sport sir and I'm not going to shift'," Addison said.

So what would represent success at the Emerging Nations World Cup?

According to Kowalski it is simple.

"Just competing," said Kowalski, adding football and rugby union have got a big jump on league in Europe, and Australia is the best place to raise its Polish profile.

"That's all I want to see. Just let the world know that Poland can actually play rugby league.

"We've go t to start somewhere. We want to help them get sponsorship to expand their game."

In sport results matter but you somehow sense a deeper satisfaction with Addison that he will be honouring a vital part of his heritage and that alone appears powerful enough to trump any setback on the field.

He feels his grandfather would thoroughly approve.

Topics: sport, rugby-league, nrl, human-interest, people, logan-central-4114, brisbane-4000, qld, australia

First posted August 24, 2018 05:20:26

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Source: Google News Poland | Netizen 24 Poland

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