Coaches Review for 2007

Who Will Be The First Coach to Be ‘Boned’ in 2007?

In today’s modern game of Rugby League; the hottest seat in the house is rented by the Head Coach.
A poor run of form, fans screaming for blood, player revolts and even dubious calls by referees have seen coaches fall by the way side – these days, coaches don’t get much of a chance to perform. It’s do or die.

Today we analyse the coaches in the game; and who I believe will be the first to be ‘boned’ as Eddie Maquire calls it in 2007.

Wayne Bennett one of the longest serving coaches in the game. Well respected by his squad and management, reads the game very well and is exceptional at making smart interchanges. Was as safe as a bank 12 months ago, but even winning the premiership can’t erase the speculation of his near move to the Sydney Roosters. Safe

Craig Bellamy did his apprenticeship under Bennett and has taken truck loads of knowledge and combined that with fresh ideas and relentless dedication. A strong coach with a strong squad. Could be a long stint in Melbourne for this man. Safe

Steve Folkes a serious personality with a long heritage at the Belmore base. A strong emphasis on fitness, he works his squad very hard – some say too hard, when you look at recent and regular injury stints to Sonny Bill Williams, Willie Mason and Wille Tonga. A passionate coach who is well supported by the family at the Bulldogs. Safe

Brian Smith the dedicated former teacher who spends hours preparing game plans for his squad, is now the main man in Newcastle. After a long stint at Parramatta, a change will either make or break him, Newcastle have limited time left with Johns and if Brian Smith can’t crack the code early and bring home the trophy – it’s a sure ‘boning’. Danger

Des Hasler the Brookvale boy will never get a better chance to take the prize this year. A squad littered with stars, a big cashed up sponsor, top line support staff and regular fanatical fans at Brooky. While this sounds like a magic carpet ride, if things turn messy Des could find himself joining the queue at Centrelink. Caution

Nathan Brown over at the Dragons, I believe really has a tough year ahead. The Saints have lost several top notch ball players and continue to persist with the Gasnier experiment at five eigth to their detriment. While Brown has had support from high places – Doubst can’t protect him forever. Brown a genuine straight talker is too close to his players and lacks killer instinct I believe to keep his job in the hot seat. Danger

Neil Henry takes over at the Canberra Raiders. Well, this is probably material for the TV Show: “World’s Most Dangerous Jobs” – Henry takes the helm of an average squad with a dwindling fan base. Time at the Cowboys would have helped his experience, and he has certainly coached with the big boys at Origin level – he will need every ounce of his experience and patience to guide this side into the finals. On the other hand, big things aren’t expected of the Raiders and this can work in the coaches favour. Good luck! Caution

Michael Hagan walks into Brian Smith’s old job at the Parramatta Eels. An easy going coach who seems to extract the best from his players and has a history of knowing when to blood youngsters. Parra has lost key personel this year and Hagan will need to be eyeing younger players to take the team forward. Dennis Fitzgerald is known for standing by his coaches which will help. Fairly Safe

Graham Murray has had a decent stint with the Cowboys now. A good selection of players and have been building in confidence over the past few years. The loss of trainer Billy Johnstone will hurt the Townsville side – however Murray has taken the Cowboys from cellar dwellers to a powerhouse and really should be looked after for a while yet. Safe

Ivan Cleary from the NZ Warriors seems to be heading in the right direction. A clean out of old stagers at the club has instilled a sense of urgency among the sometimes carefree Kiwis. Cleary served under a solid regime at the Roosters and with time should build the Warriors into a consistent unit. Needs to hurry the process up, but should be safe this year. Safe

Tim Sheens out in the Wild West is the man that took the Tigers all the way in 2005. A proven performer for many years, who only has a small blemish on his CV with time spent at the Cowboys. Sheens has picked the right players in the right positions and I feel a strong junior base will ensure he and the club are together for some time yet. Safe

Matthew Elliott takes up the post at the foot of the mountains. A bit of a mystery man to most, he was seemly able to extract good things from an average Raiders squad in past years. His seemly relaxed nature puts players and officials at ease and he has an ability to stay out of the media spotlight with is a handy trait. He has a decent squad to work with and well picked support staff in Adamson and Georgalis. Needs to perform. Caution

Ricky Stuart who was dumped hard by the Roosters in 2006, faces a mammoth task over in the Shark pit. The perennial bridesmaids Cronulla are screaming out for a strong leader to take them to victory. Ricky only has at best a basic squad to work with and faces a severly reduced fanbase at their home ground after a few years of bad form. Stuart will need to perform nothing short of a miracle to get this team going, and he needs to do it faster than Darren Albert can re-nig on a contract. Danger

Chris Anderson aka Mr Cranky steps back into the breach after a few years in the wilderness. An astute, no nonsense coach who expects only the best from his players. His presense alone makes players stand up and take note. However in some cases this can make players feel un-easy and nerves can creep into his squad. Known for stamping his style on all aspects of the coaching operation, his stint at the Roosters will be an all or nothing affair. Watch for friction between Roosters Mafia: Politis, Gould and Co – who will feel the heat of the Anderson style. He has decent players to work with, and I feel with Anderson in control they will either be superstars or ghetto dwellers. Caution

Jason Taylor is the new kid on the block, and after setting the world on fire last year with Parramatta – secured the most talked about role in the NRL – head coach of the South Sydney Rabbitohs. Taylor a hands on and thoughtful teacher – has a massive arsenal at his disposal, an influx of top line players, administration with truckloads of cash and a training and facilities base on the vast improve. While the world wants to see Souths perform and fast, don’t expect Taylor to be dumped early if poor results appear. Souths will want to stay out of the headlines this year and surely they can’t handle ANOTHER coaching change. We watch with interest. Fairly Safe

John Cartwright will be in control of the newest NRL franchise the Gold Coast Titans. A quiet man, who was previously right hand man for Stuart at the Roosters will face a tough task in bringing together a new batch of players in short time. Cartwright seems to have a good temprement, which players should respond to. A decent squad at his disposal, strong support staff in Billy Johnstone and Scott Sattler and of course smart management who have secured top name sponsors and media spotlight. I think Cartwright will do well in the role of head coach, his apprenticeship at the Roosters seemed successful and the timing looks right. Fairly Safe.

So, who will go first? The GodFather thinks: NATHAN BROWN will be the first coach to be sacked. As other coaches in danger are first year coaches at their new clubs, it would take a disaster for them to be sacked early.

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