Growing up in Toowoomba, Dan Stains had a dream: to one day play under super-coach Jack Gibson, take up his knowledge, and eventually become a master mentor himself.

The hard-nosed forward scored his first goal with the Sharks in 1987 and went on to play 135 first-grade games in black, white, and blue across eight years. He also led the club and played four Origin matches for Queensland.

However, his initial views of Gibson’s teaching left him disappointed. All these years later, after writing an autobiography that addresses a prior perspective shaped by childhood trauma, Stains admits that his expectations were incorrect.

“I went there with all these preconceived ideas of what a coach should be and how they should fill me up with all this knowledge,” Stains said.

“It was a raw experience since Jack didn’t have any of it.

“As an outsider looking in, I thought, ‘Jack has no defensive scheme, and his offensive structure is ambiguous.

“It wasn’t until 10 years later, when I got into coaching and I got Jack to come and help me, that I started to see the genius in everything he did.”

As he discusses in the book “What Now,” Stains only spent one season as Gibson’s coach – 1987 was his final year in charge – but received a profound wake-up call from the five-time premiership winner.

Stains lost his father and eldest sister when he was young, thus he gravitated toward strong older role models. The 59-year-old has written about his journey to “inner peace” after dealing with such traumas, as well as two marriage breakdowns.

He hopes his experience provides “signposts” that will guide people to their own breakthroughs. He also wants to use his expertise to help NRL players and others who do not make it to the top live successful life after football.

When asked about his highlights, he says: “The ’88 and ’89 seasons – we were minor premiers in ’88 – and the friendships I had with Gavin Miller, Malcolm Wheeler, Barry Russell, Michael Speechley, Mark McGaw, ET (Andrew Ettingshausen), Dane Sorensen, Michael Porter, and Glenn Coleman.”

“Just the fun times we had back in ’88 and ’89, they were really magical.”

Between 1988 and 1991, he was coached by Allan Fitzgibbon, the father of current Sharks mentor Craig. He remembers Craig as the team’s ballboy and a consistent presence during practice.

“I think he was probably 11 at the time,” Stains adds.

“He was bright-eyed and enjoyed life. He was wearing a Sharks tracksuit and was probably not much shorter than any of us players!

“He was simply a nice child from a lovely family. It’s no surprise that Craig has developed into such a nice young man and an excellent Sharks coach.

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In contrast, Stains never reached the heights he hoped for as a coach. He started strong, leading Balmain to the reserve-grade grand final in 1997, but struggled the following season. He then turned to Gibson for advice.

During a discussion at Gibson’s property overlooking Port Hacking, one comment made Stains aware of the reality of coaching and the wider picture.

“He tapped me on the leg and said, ‘Can’t you see that your entire philosophy is flawed?'” “That felt like a stake in my heart, mate.”

“Here I was, having made it to the grand final the previous year, thinking I was a super-coach, doing everything I believed Jack and other coaches were doing.

“It didn’t just wake me up to

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