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The Best We've Ever Seen: Jack Gibson

Tough and hard-nosed as a player, insightful and thought-provoking as a mentor, Jack Gibson is regarded as one of the code's greatest coaches and holds a special place in Club history. 

Name: John Arthur Gibson
Nickname: Supercoach, Jack, Hoot
DOB: 27/02/1929
Club Debut: Round 5, 1953 vs Western Suburbs
Roosters Player No. 418
First Grade Games for Club: 123
First Grade Points for Club: 78 from 26 tries
Premierships: 2 (1974, 1975 as Head Coach)
Representative Career: 1 Interstate Match for NSW (1954)
Individual Accolades: Sydney Roosters Captain (1960-1961)
Sydney Roosters Coach (1967-1968, 1974-1977)
NSW State of Origin Head Coach (1989-1990)
Dally M Coach of the Year (1982)
Jack Gibson Medal (1995-present)
Australian Sports Medal (2000)
Head Coach Australian Rugby League Team of the Century (2008)
Head Coach Sydney Roosters Centurions (2007)
Sydney Roosters Hall of Fame (2010)

Making his first-grade debut with Eastern Suburbs in 1953, Gibson was renowned for his tough and uncompromising style of play, and worked as a bouncer at a nightclub known as 'Thommo's Two-Up School' when not charging head-on into the defence.

Playing in the front row, Gibson's made an immediate impression, debuting for New South Wales the following season. Through his career, he was admired and feared by both teammates and opponents, eventually going on to captain the Tricolours to the 1960 Grand Final - the Club's first since the 1945 Premiership triumph.

Hall Of Fame | Jack Gibson

Finishing his eight-year tenure in the Red, White and Blue at the end of 1961, Gibson totalled 123 games for the Club before retiring just a few years later - but quickly turned his attention to coaching where he would truly make his mark. 

Following a disastrous winless season in 1966 for the Tricolours, Gibson's revolutionary yet straightforward approach saw the side qualify for the finals for the first time since the 1960 Grand Final. 

After a second consecutive top-four finish in 1968, he continued his coaching journey at St George and Newtown, taking the Dragons to the 1971 decider, before returning for a second stint with the clipboard in Bondi wiser and more commanding.

Success was immediate for Gibson who famously introduced a number of revolutionary techniques and applications including video previews and skinfold testing. A student of the trade and always looking to learn, particularly influenced by American sports, he also introduced the use of weights machines and created an overall program of rehabilitation and fitness conditioning, now commonly referred to as a high-performance unit.

The Eastern Suburbs Roosters of 1974-1975 became one of the most revered teams in the code's history, taking out back-to-back titles in record fashion, before claiming the inaugural World Club Challenge in 1976 - much thanks to the influence of the man known as the Super Coach. 

Winning three further Premierships at Parramatta, Gibson retired from club duties in 1988 with over 400 games and 250 wins with six different clubs, and as the equal-most successful coach of all time. That year he was duly awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for his service to Rugby League.

The words that occur to me when I try to assess the success secrets of Jack Gibson are discipline, strength, honesty, simplicity.

Arthur Beetson Sydney Rooster #615

His everlasting influence at the Club was acknowledged in retirement, as the Jack Gibson Medal was introduced in 1995 as the highest individual award given out as the Club's Player of the Year, which has continued to be awarded on an annual basis, and later bestowed the Australian Sports Medal in 2000.

Known for his colourful vernacular, Gibson's famous quotes and quips continue to live long in the memories of Rugby League greats and fanatics alike.

"Simplicity wins matches, complexity loses them."

"You can't be a mug all week and not be a mug at the weekend football."

"Next week is all I worry about. Winning next week is all that counts to me." 

"Played strong, done fine."

In 2007 as the code celebrated its century in Australia, Gibson too was honoured as he was named as Head Coach of 'The Centurions' - a team comprised of the best players to have played more than 100 games for the Roosters. The following year he was named as Head Coach in the Australian Rugby League's Team of the Century - cementing his status as the Super Coach. 

After battling illness in his final years, Jack Gibson passed away just hours before the Australia vs New Zealand Centenary Test on May 9, 2008, with each NRL match during the weekend having a moment's silence in honour of his legacy. 

I consider it a privilege of my life to have known him and to be able to call him a friend. The game of Rugby League should value him higher still. He has been the Great Revolutionary.

Ron Coote Sydney Rooster #625

The Jack Gibson Cup was introduced later that season - which has since been contested between the Roosters and Parramatta Eels on an annual basis, in memory of the Premiership-winning coach. 

In 2010, Gibson was given the ultimate honour, becoming an inaugural inductee into the Sydney Roosters Hall of Fame, joining his Premiership winning-captain Arthur Beetson and later 1974-75 Premiership winner Ron Coote.

Beetson and Coote both showered their former mentor with praise. 

"I consider it a privilege of my life to have known him and to be able to call him a friend. The game of Rugby League should value him higher still. He has been the Great Revolutionary," Coote beamed.

Beetson added: "The words that occur to me when I try to assess the success secrets of Jack Gibson are discipline, strength, honesty, simplicity."

A reader, a listener and a watcher; a philosopher of the game that brought a rare atmosphere and air of success, Jack Gibson lives on as the best coach we've ever seen. 

Acknowledgement of Country

Sydney Roosters respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.