How AFL star helped McLaughlin's title bid

  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 29/11/2018
  • By Mitchell Adam

AFL star Jack Riewoldt put Scott McLaughlin onto a Richmond Tigers expert, who gave the Shell V-Power Racing driver crucial help during his title-winning Supercars season.

McLaughlin endured a heartbreaking end to 2017, losing the championship at the final hurdle to Jamie Whincup, but avoided a repeat in Newcastle last weekend.

Even with shades of deja vu, he beat fellow Kiwi and season-long rival Shane van Gisbergen by 71 points to seal a maiden crown.

The 25-year-old revealed post-race on Supercars Trackside that he'd been working with Emma Murray, a high performance mind coach who has worked with the Richmond club that won the 2017 AFL flag.

McLaughlin received a tip from star Tigers forward Riewoldt in late last year, which led to his association with Murray.

Riewoldt interviewing McLaughlin after going for a hotlap at Sandown in 2017

"I've become close with Jack Riewoldt from Richmond, a couple of years ago," McLaughlin explained on the Fox Motorsport podcast this week.

"We always kept in contact and after Newcastle last year he said 'look, I think it'd be really good if you had a chat to Emma about a few things' and things just got a bit more serious.

"I kept it to myself all year, I didn't really tell anyone about it.

"My family sort of knew and not really anyone on the team, I don't even think Ryan [Story, DJRTP chief] knew until I told him later on in the year.

"I didn't want anybody to think I was losing my mind, but it felt like a nice little thing that I could have a chat to her about a few things.

"[It's] just working out how to keep my focus because I do struggle sometimes, like in the last few laps of a race if I'm leading I do tend to drift off, and I've found that is a bit of an issue through my career.

"I felt like I had to tune it up."

Riewoldt and McLaughlin met on the set of Fox Sports program AFL 360, where McLaughlin is an occasional guest, striking up a friendship.

The show’s producer, Tim Hodges, has penned a book with McLaughlin about the 2018 season titled Road to Redemption, which will reveal more details of Riewoldt and Murray’s influence on the driver.

Riewoldt and McLaughlin on the 360 set, with host Gerard Whateley and AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan

McLaughlin has spoken throughout 2018 of learning from the Newcastle '17 experience, and then before the decider of being better prepared for what was ahead.

"Newcastle in '17... in some ways I look towards the main result and I think we spoke about it a little bit and even Jack spoke to me about it," he added.

"When you climb Everest, you're never settled. Everyone who fails is looking at the top, they're not looking at their feet and they miss a step and fall back down.

"The people that make it to the top are constantly focused on the one goal, each step and they get up there safely.

"It's just a little motto we ran on the weekend, continue looking at the feet and the good things will come."

A mindfulness expert and former netballer-turned-coach, Murray started working with Tigers players in 2016, the season before the club ended its 37-year premiership drought.

"Mindfulness for me is about what's happening right here, right now," Murray told The Age in late-2017 of her work.

"A big thing for an athlete to understand is when your attention leaves the present, it is no longer there.

"When you bring it back you've skipped a bit of what you're living in, like the game.

"In a game if your attention goes to the score or the crowd or the mistake you just made then that can effect a player's physical output, like their timing."

Of Murray's input, McLaughlin told Supercars Trackside: "She's certainly helped me.

"She's worked with Richmond Football Club across the years just with little things.

"I have to put a lot down to her because I was on the phone with her all weekend just trying to calm my nerves and all year we've been on the phone."

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