Who would be an NRL coach?

04/03/2014

Who would be an NRL coach?

As season 2014 is set for take-off, in the excitement and expectation let me take you to the reality room of footy. in the coaching office the planning of  months and weeks of preparation have become days and now almost hours and minutes. Decisions have been made and adjusted on what to do every minute of every days training to ensure that each coach has covered every base in his team’s readiness for round one and all that follows.

Only Coaches Green (Cowboys) and Arthur (Eels) have not experienced the preseason and week one build up for an NRL season. The rest of them know the deal although Coaches Robinson and Potter (Roosters and Tigers – 2nd time) Price, Toovey and Maguire (Eagles and Rabbits – 3rd time) are relatively inexperienced at the NRL level.

Back in Canberra, this time in his first season as Raiders Head Coach, Ricky Stuart will have been trying to absorb as much information as possible about his new players and all that makes a difference in a quality preparation to hit the ground running.

That’s half of the head coaches for 2014 who are “hoping they have got it right” so that every individual and most importantly, the team is set for a good start to a successful season. That good start has become a very important part of a coach’s season.

The rocky start that ends up with a great finish for the team is too often not good enough for the coach to stay part of the set-up for future seasons. See Cowboys 2013 and Coach Neil Henry’s plight for guidance on this matter.

Currently sections of the media appear to have similar stories, rumours and headlines ready to roll if the Dragons, Tigers, Broncos, Titans, Eels or Warriors fail to take off this weekend or pretty soon thereafter. Is that fair?

Let’s take a bit of a deeper look at how success or failure (that’s wins and losses in today’s ridiculously narrow assessment) seems to occur around coaches in the current trends of NRL footy. Is it about the coaches only or about the other factors within each club’s circumstance?

If we band rookie coaches (or rookie to the NRL to be more specific) from recent seasons there is a clear division. Coaches Maguire, Robinson and Toovey have nailed it right from the first day and kept on going in that direction of great success.

Coaches Furner, Kearney, Griffin, Price and Potter have not!

Common themes there seem to be obvious if we look outside the coaching. Souths, Roosters and Manly all had outstanding player rosters for the coach to work with from day one – and still do. If you are a supporter of one of those clubs ask yourself would you swap the whole of another clubs roster with the one your coach currently has to work with. If there are any doubting Thomases let me suggest you would only swap with one of the other two mentioned.

Conversely who thinks we would get the same answer from Raiders, Eels, Broncos, Dragons or Tigers fans despite their great loyalty to their players? Those rosters are clearly not including the same numbers of quality NRL stars and we all know it.

I will leave it for another time and place to discuss how much input your current coach has had to with the current roster. Many of you will know that some of these coaches have inherited the current group or had little recruitment and retention influence. Some will have had much more time and made many more decisions . Perhaps they should be judged differently according to time frame?

I reckon within the coaching group for 2014 some really cool heads and sensible assessment of the job done would be beneficial for those clubs involved as much as for the coaches.

Parramatta is surely the best example of what happens if the coach doesn’t win immediately or pretty soon and board or management decides the coach must pay the price for everyone. The disintegration of the potential biggest club in the NRL is a very sad thing for most real footy fans and definitely for me. Is it poor coaching that has caused the fall? Did the bundle of coaches who have been through that great club appoint themselves?

This is the story of how NOT to run a footy club.

How will your footy club run its affairs this season under pressure?

Even some of the very best coaches with reasonable rosters have not nailed it as those rookie coaches with top rosters have. Coaches Bennett and Hasler had very mixed results in season 2014.  Coaches Elliott and Cleary did the switcheroo without any great success as yet. Perhaps the rosters are simply not good enough.

Which coach do you think has done best in recent seasons with the roster he had at the time?

And who do you think might beat the roster challenge to get a great result in 2014?