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Ange, Wayne and who else? The 10 best coaches in Aussie sporting history

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best australian coaches all time

Sport plays a massive part in the DNA of many Aussies, whether that be professional cricket, AFL, Rugby Union or League, Soccer or even the Olympic Games. While it’s the players that usually get the plaudits, they wouldn’t achieve anything without a successful coach. So, it begs the question: Who is the best Australian coach of all time?

This article will look to answer that once and for all, showcasing the ten best Australian coaches who have left their mark in Australia or the world stage throughout their coaching career.

10 best Australian coaches of all time

Coming up with a list of the best Australian coaches of all time is not an easy task. But, after much deliberation, we eventually settled upon this countdown.

Looking across all sporting codes, we derived this countdown of the greatest Australian coaches of all time by taking into account their achievements, coaching style, impact on their sport and influence on the players.

dawn of the dolphins
Where does rugby league supercoach, Wayne Bennett, rank among the best Australian coaches?

10. Alastair Clarkson

Coach of: Australian Football League

Along with Leigh Matthews, Alastair Clarkson is the only coach to have won three consecutive Australian Football League premierships, which automatically makes him one of Australia’s greatest-ever coaches.

Overall, he has won four premierships. But arguably his greatest legacy is the impact he has had on his assistant coaches, three of whom – Luke Beveridge, Damien Hardwick and Adam Simpson – have won five subsequent premierships between them.

9. Sandy Brondello

Coach of: Basketball

Sandy Brondello might not be a household name but her record as a basketball coach is phenomenal. Her coaching career in the WNBA began in 2010 with the San Antonio Silver Stars who she took to the play-offs in her debut season.

Later, during a 10-year stint with the Phoenix Mercury, she took them to the playoffs every year including two WNBA finals – of which she won one. She has also guided the Australian national team to the Gold Medal at the Commonwealth Games in 2018 and the Silver Medal at the World Cup of the same year.

8. Lindsay Gaze

Coach of: Basketball

No one has had as big of an impact on Australia’s basketball scene then Lindsay Gaze. Between 1972 and 1994, he regularly took the Boomers to the FIBA World Cup and Olympics. Domestically he would also win a brace of NBL championships and be awarded coach of the year on three occasions, making him undoubtedly a Hall of Famer.

7. Alan Jones

Coach of: Rugby Union

While he cuts a polarising figure now, there is no denying Alan Jones helped establish Australia as a rugby union powerhouse in the 1980s.

During his time as coach of the national team, he enjoyed great success, winning 102 matches, including a famous grand slam against Northern Hemisphere teams in 1984 and a fantastic Bledisloe Cup win in New Zealand.

6. Johnny Lewis

Coach of: Boxing

Johnny Lewis is one of Australia’s most celebrated boxing coaches. During a glittering career, he has coached and trained six world champions. The likes of Jeff Fenech, Kostya Tszyu and Jeff Harding are the Aussies he has run the rule over.

5. Rale Rasic

Coach of: Football

Rale Rasic might not be a name most of you are familiar with, but as he was awarded an OAM (Medal of the Order of Australia) for his services to soccer, he deserves a prominent position on this list.

The Yugoslavian-born Rasic is famous for taking Australia to the World Cup Final stages for the very first time in their history. No mean achievement considering all of the players were part-time footballers who required extended leave from work to take part in the tournament.

The Australian national team was pitted in a tough group with hosts West Germany and East Germany, who they lost to 3-0 and 1-0 respectively. However, they did manage a respectable 0-0 draw with Chile before exiting at the group stage. At the time, it was the nation’s greatest footballing feat.

4. John Buchanan

Coach of: Cricket

Many would argue John Buchanan’s coaching career would be markedly less impressive if not for the work of Bob Simpson and Geoff Marsh before him. But history is written by the winners, and Buchanan is nothing but that.

He presided over the most successful period in Australian cricket history, winning the 2003 and 2007 ODI World Cups, the 2001, 2002-03, and 2006-07 Ashes, and set a world record 16 consecutive Test match wins and 23 ODI World Cup wins.

Buchanan’s hyper-successful coaching era was defined by the high calibre of superstars that were practically cemented in his starting XI: Steve Waugh, Ricky Pointing, Shane Warne, Adam Gilchrist, and Glenn McGrath to name a few.

His coaching methods were considered highly unorthodox, with Warne publicly admitting to not being the biggest fan. But, Ricky Ponting credited Buchanan as being a core element of the Australian cricket side’s era unparalleled success.

3. Joyce Brown

Coach of: Netball

Joyce Brown is a legend in Australian Netball. In a stellar career – as both a player and head coach – she has the remarkable record of never losing a world championship netball match.

As a coach, she guided the Australian team to the World Netball Championship titles in 1975, 1983 and 1991. She also helped them win the 1993 World Games.

Like Rale Rasic she was awarded the OAM for her services to her sport.

2. Wayne Bennett

Coach of: Rugby League

Wayne Bennett began his rugby league coaching journey in 1975 with the U18s Queensland Police Academy. Still going strong almost 50 years later, this affable Aussie coach has enjoyed incredible success winning seven premierships with the Brisbane Broncos and St George Illawarra Dragons

He also coached the Queensland Maroons to several Origin series wins and enjoyed plenty of success with the Kangaroos, while his stint at South Sydney Rabbitohs needed one piece of silverware to get the recognition it deserves.

Such is the esteem Bennett is held in within the rugby league world, no single fan doubted him as being unfit to lead the NRL’s latest expansion side, the Dolphins, in their incredibly important formative years.

Bennett’s winning record speaks for itself; after coaching over 1,000 club games the great man’s winning record still hovers around an incredibly commendable 60%. By far and away enough to be considered one of the best Australian coaches of all time.

1. Ange Postecoglou

Coach of: Football

When it comes to the best or even famous Australian coaches, there can be no doubt that Ange Postecoglou is streets ahead of everyone else.

Currently impressing all and sundry with the way he has turned Spurs into genuine title contenders in the Premier League (except maybe Arsenal fans!), Ange has won titles domestically on three different continents, including one premiership with Scottish giants Celtic and two A league championships with the Brisbane Roar.

ange postecoglou, Spurs, best Australian coaches
Are Ange Postecoglou’s accolades enough for him to top the list of the best Australian coaches ever?

Conclusion

Whether through leading their national team or as head coach of a domestic side all of the names that feature on this list, deserve to be there.

While some have a grand final success or multiple to their name, others are considered among the Best Australian coaches of all time for their impact on their sport. For this reason, they should all be considered champions.

Jarryd Salem
Jarryd Salem
Professional traveller by day, extreme sports binger by night and coffee drinker all the time, Jarryd Salem looks after the operations here at OnlySports. When he's not climbing mountain peaks in some country ending in 'Stan' or snapping pics in the polar regions, he's diving deep into everything that makes the internet work, shopping for sports NFTs and planning his next big snowboarding adventure.

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