There are many different roles that are required within a Super Rugby club, not many bigger than the role of a match analyst.
For Melbourne Rebels rugby analyst John Batina, his career in rugby could’ve been totally different.
Born and raised in the Northern suburbs of Melbourne, Batina played grassroots rugby for both Harlequins and then the Northern Panthers before a pair of ACLs’ over a four-year period called for the then 20-year-old to think about his future in the sport.
Talking to Melanie Kawa on Monday night’s episode of ‘Convos with Kawa’, Batina spoke about the end of his playing days.
“It was actually injury, injury was what made me start thinking about coaching and the other side of playing.
“I had done my ACL when I was 16 and then I did the same ACL again when I was 20; so that was when I stopped playing.
“At the time I was already in university studying a double degree in exercise science and sport and recreation.”
Having been lucky enough to intern for the Melbourne Rebels in 2014, Batina secured a full-time job as an assistant analyst and is now the head of the department.
Batina’s role often requires catching gameplay footage from both training and matches to distribute to the coaches and playing staff.
“For me it’s basically working with the coaches to make sure that the meeting content that we are going to present to the boys is ready.
“Everything that’s come out of our training vision, our match-day vision and all the KPI’s we have set out in pre-season, my job is to basically analyse that, see if we have hit our markers and give that back to the coaches who can then present to the players so in the meetings basically making sure everything’s neat and tidy and ready to go.”
Originating from a Fijian background, Batina also received an opportunity to work for the Fijian National team. “It’s an opportunity that came,” he said.
“I was lucky enough to graduate from the internship into the assistant analyst role and then in 2016 what ended up happening was Fiji reached out and said there was a position to be filled and if I was interested they’d love to have me.
“It was definitely something that had been on my radar ever since I was doing my internship because I used to think to myself what support do the Pacific Islands actually have to the degree of Super Rugby in terms of technology, in terms of staff and credibility.
“I just wanted to basically take what I’d learnt in Super Rugby in two years and try and help Fijian bring to them what the Super Rugby program I’d seen had.”
Whilst travelling may be fun for Batina, the role of a match analyst requires long working days and very little sleep.
A match analyst will normally work non-stop from game-day all the way through to the first team meeting of the week.
For Batina, he says a good night’s sleep before match-day is required to get him through the weekend.
“It’s definitely about a 48 hour process so if we look at it from the start of game-day, I’ll actually try and have a really good sleep in the day of the game because I know I’ll be up late that night so we are talking about sleeping in as late as I can 10am, 11am and then I’ll wake up.
“I arrive 4 hours before kick-off basically because my main role is to make sure the coaches’ box where Dave and our assistants all sit is all hooked up and connected to the footage we take in for the game.
“Once we are into the game my role during the match is actually coding so when I talk about coding it’s basically an element to the match where focusing on and I’m measuring that data live so then I can give that feedback to the coaches in the game.
“After the match we are then taking all of the footage we’ve recorded from the game, every different angle...so basically we record each individual camera and what we get back from that game is the individual angles that we can choose which angle we want to watch it on.”