All Blacks’ mental skills coach Gilbert Enoka ‘hired by Chelsea on a short-term basis’

Chelsea have reportedly hired former All Blacks mental skills coach Gilbert Enoka on a short-term consultancy basis.

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Enoka, who described himself as the ‘custodian of culture’ for the All Blacks, has spent over 20 years with the New Zealand national side in a number of roles, including as the team’s mental skills coach, assistant manager and more recently the side’s leadership manager.

His time with one of the most feted sports teams on the planet coincided with them claiming two World Cups back-to-back in 2011 and 2015 and shaking off the feeling that they often failed to get it done in the key moments.

According to The Telegraph, Chelsea have sought to gain some of his wisdom and have hired the former New Zealand international volleyball player on a temporary basis.

The report states that he is due to start what has been described as a short-term consultancy role, with Chelsea – under the owners Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital – keen to instil a fresh winning culture within the club following an astonishing financial outlay in the last eight months.

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He will be tasked with ensuring a team culture is found under Graham Potter, with Chelsea having reportedly acknowledged that work needs to be done to ensure the club’s new arrivals do not fail under the weight of expectation.

While New Zealand have long been regarded as Test rugby union’s greatest side, for a long time they were accused of failing to live up to expectation.

Famous defeats include World Cup losses to South Africa in 1995 and France in 2007, fixtures it was expected that they should have got over the line in.

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They claimed their first World Cup since 1987 in 2011 when they dealt with the pressure of a home tournament admirably to beat France 8-7 in the final. In England four years later they retained their crown.

Enoka is credited with being an enormous influence on this success, with his role in creating a winning culture predicated on a now-widely used ‘no d***heads’ policy paramount.

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In March 2017, Enoka outlined what was important for team culture and how he, the coaching staff and the players managed to create an almost insurmountable culture of winning.

‘A d***head makes everything about them,’ he said. ‘Often teams put up with it because a player has so much talent. We look for early warning signs and wean the big egos out pretty quickly. Our motto is, “if you can’t change the people, change the people”.

‘Our coach Steve Hansen, a brilliant man, once came into a team meeting a few minutes late. As he walked in, one of the senior players stood up and said, “Coach, you can’t be late. Not again, please.” So it’s actually the team monitoring this behaviour

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‘Look for people putting themselves ahead of the team,’ he said when asked how to root out bad influences on team culture. ‘Or people who think they’re entitled to things or expect the rules to be different for them. People operating deceitfully in the dark, or alternatively, being unnecessarily loud about their work.

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‘The management might not spot these counterproductive behaviours. The players and leaders themselves should call others out for their inflated egos.’

In addition to having worked with the All Blacks, Enoka spent six years between 1998 and 2004 with the country’s men’s cricket team and three years with the Silver Ferns netball side prior to that.

One of six brothers, Enoka spent the first 12 years of his life growing up in an orphanage. Prior to his time in professional sport, he was a qualified PE teacher.

Chelsea have spent more than £600m on new signings in the last two transfer windows alone, with Potter given the task of bedding in an almost entirely new team – with most of those individuals young and largely inexperienced players.

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