Mitch Garbutt fired up by legends as he quits Super League for new role

Mitch Garbutt Toulouse Olympique SWpix
Photo: John Rushworth/SWpix

Mitch Garbutt says the experience of playing under Wayne Bennett and Tim Sheens has given him the hunger to quit Super League and head into coaching.

Garbutt has agreed to join French Elite 1 Championship side Racing Club Saint-Gaudens and will leave Toulouse at the end of the season to take up a player-head coach role.

And speaking exclusively to Love Rugby League, the 33-year-old Australian revealed it was his decision to move on.

“The decision was obviously a tough one and a similar role got offered to me at Toulouse,” said the prop, who won Grand Finals in 2015 and 2017 with Leeds.

“It was just an opportunity to test myself as a head coach pretty early on in my career.

“Some people wait a long time to do that. I’ll still be playing over the next couple of years with Saint-Gaudens but I’m calling time on my full-time professional career which is a big decision especially when I had a few options to keep going.”


Family comes first, says Mitch Garbutt

Garbutt says the key factor behind his move was a desire to stay in France where his family are settled. He and his wife are expecting their third child in September.

“I’ve always put my family first ,” he added. “Performance -wise I still think I could do a job at Super League level but the older you get the right opportunities don’t seem to come.”

SURVIVAL: Mitch Garbutt confident of Toulouse avoiding relegation from Super League

Legendary coaches pathing the way for Garbutt

Garbutt admits he will he learning on the job as a head coach for the first time. He cites his experience under some of the game’s great coaches as a huge inspiration as he plots his own coaching path.

He continued: “Over the last four or five years I’ve really tried to help the younger fellas coming through, knowing the quicker they can get better at understanding the game then the better it makes me look! 

“I’ve been lucky enough to have been coached by Wayne Bennett, Craig Bellamy, Tim Sheens and Brian McDermott. They are blokes who have been super successful and who are very different characters in the game. I’ve picked up a few different things from all of them that I think will really help me. The same goes for Tony Smith and Sylvain Houles.

“The player-coach role might be tough to manage as you are in the playing group. You are also in charge of selection and responsible for results. I’ll need to work out a way to manage that.”

PODCAST: Mitch Garbutt on life in France & his reflection on Leeds Rhinos

The language barrier

Garbutt knows that language will be key to his success in his first coaching role. The Australian is making a big effort to ensure he gets his message across.

He said: “I’m definitely not fluent in French, I’d be the first to admit that. I’ve been working hard on the language in the last 18 months to understand how to talk to people and how to ask different types of questions. 

“I can get by and am immersed in the rugby side of it. Day to day I’m doing ok and if I struggle I can get my little daughter to be my translator.”

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