This week we catch up with our former backline utility and assistant coach, Michael Maguire.
A player who could slot in anywhere across the backline, Maguire represented the Raiders for five years in two different stints in the mid-90s before he retired at 22 years of age due to injury.
After retiring, Maguire embarked upon a successful coaching career at the Raiders before winning Super League and NRL Premierships as head coach of the Wigan Warriors and South Sydney Rabbitohs respectively.
Canberra Raiders #144
What do you do for work now?
I’m working across the NRL as a High Performance Coach in officiating and leadership, so I’m doing bits and pieces like that in the game.
What’s your favourite memory as a Raider?
Probably the 1994 Grand Final but the memories that I got out of the Raiders were learning from some of the greatest players to ever play the game like Laurie Daley, Ricky Stuart, Bradley Clyde, Mal Meninga, Gary Belcher, John Lomax, Quentin Pongia, the list goes on. I was very fortunate to be at the Raiders in the early 90s when some of the greats of the game played.
What did it mean for you to wear the Raiders jersey?
It was very special. I grew up being a Canberra kid and I always watched the Raiders. They were always the team that I followed. I never probably thought I was going to be playing at the Raiders at the time because I was in a rugby union family. I’d play a league game every now and then before all of a sudden the opportunity came about and it took off from there.
The time at the Raiders when they were flying high and had the greatest players in the game was very special to be a part of. It actually formed a fair thought pattern around what got me into coaching. Unfortunately, my career finished at the age of 22 because of injury but a lot of the more senior players at the time used to keep me going and around the game.
Coaching at the Raiders was really good. I was fairly young as a coach but my injuries gave me a great insight into the strength and conditioning side of things and then I became an assistant coach whilst Mal Meninga and Matty Elliot were there. That gave me the opportunity to propel myself into other teams and other opportunities.
Who was your favourite teammate?
That is a tough one. I’ve got a fair few. Mal Meninga was one that helped me out quite a fair bit transitioning into coaching after my injuries. Also Mark Corvo, Jason Burnham, Matt Wood and Luke Davico were the guys that came in when I did so they are all good fellas and we had a good time together. All the guys I played with gave me some great memories.
Do you keep in touch with any of your former teammates?
We tend to run into each other a fair bit because I am still in the circles of rugby league. Seeing someone like Gary McDonald, he played reserve grade and not a lot of first grade, he was a great character who helped me along the way. So we run into each other, especially with me being in and around the game.
What was your funniest moment as a Raider?
What was always really good fun was going to training and listening to Steve Walters and Shaun McRae get stuck into each other every day. They said everything and anything. Steve got hammered about his size and Steve got hammered about his body. It was always good entertainment. They were just characters. Shaun used to take the piss out of everyone but it was a time when everyone was training really hard and enjoying the things they were doing.
Do you have any advice for younger players?
Just make sure you take your opportunity. It was unfortunately taken away from me at a younger age but just enjoy every game and turning up to training.
It’s hard because as a young bloke I would have never thought I would play first grade for the Canberra Raiders but it gave me some of the best memories I have. I still remember as an 18 year old debuting alongside Mal Meninga. I was tiny and Mal was about three times my size.
You may not think you can get there but if you put your head down and work extremely hard, it’s amazing what you can come up with.