Dyldam Parramatta Eels Under 20s Coach for the 2015 season Steven Hales is making every minute count. From training the young and talented squad during the preseason to learning from Brad Arthur and the NRL coaching staff, Hales is making the most of the opportunity.

Hales has spent the past three seasons as Eels Under 20s Assistant Coach after being an assistant with North Sydney’s NSW Cup side, and also coaches at Westfield Sports High School. 

“I’m thoroughly enjoying the role. We have a very ambitious group and a very talented group of young men and I’m just really grateful to Parramatta for the opportunity and Brad Arthur for showing faith in me as a coach to give me the role.”

“A few of my mates have asked me whether it’s been a big step up and do I see the pressure, but that’s definitely not the case. I am just thoroughly enjoying the role, grateful for the opportunity and really looking forward to the year ahead.”

Hales has brought a no nonsense approach to training and a real team focus amongst the Holden Cup squad. Despite their talented roster, Hales is taking each day as it comes and is keen to improve on last years' preliminary final finish.

“I can’t fault the boys' attitude at training. We have talked about this year about maximising our time and making every minute count and that’s exactly what we have been doing. We get there, we train hard, we rip in and we have a real aim at not just making ourselves a better player, but also the person next to us and I think we are creating an environment that does that,” Hales said

“As far as individuals, we have had more of a team focus this year. From us, it’s just about each player being the absolute best that they can for themselves and the team, and the rest will take care of itself,” he added.

Hales and the U20s squad are not looking too far into the future, and despite a successful 2014 season, finishing one game shy of the Grand Final, Hales is not setting early season goals for the team.

“I learn a lot from last year. We did pretty well last year and that was based off us coming to training, working really hard and a real focus on being the best that we could,” Hales said.

“We are very ambitious, we want to be the best we can individually and as a team but for us it’s just about coming here and making each moment count.”

Hales is grateful to have the opportunity to work with the NRL coaching staff, ensuring consistency and high standards in the coaching between the grades.

“Brad Arthur has been outstanding. The access he has given me to the NRL side, we are welcome to training to see what they are doing, so for me it’s a great experience and definitely developing me as a coach,” Hales said.

“As a team, we are very lucky. Brad comes down to our training sessions, as well as the assistant NRL coaches coming down. Luke Burt and Nathan Hindmarsh have been coming down from the NRL helping our boys out.”

With a strong calibre of coaches readily available to Hales, he has been learning as much as he can during the pre-season.

“Anytime you get people of that calibre coming down, it’s always going to be great for the team and on top of that, we have Nathan Cayless here on our coaching staff who has been awesome with everything he does.”

“We are very fortunate to have the people we have here at the club. It’s a club that is on the rise and I am just really grateful to be part of it.”