Michael Hagan quits Eels

Michael Hagan Parramatta Eels CoachMichael Hagan has today quit his post as coach of the Parramatta Eels after only 2 seasons at the Western Sydney NRL outfit, citing family and personal health reasons. It’s been a tough 12 months for Hagan and the Eels, who stuttered badly to miss the NRL finals.

The questions were immediately being asked; was this a case of Hagan being tapped on the shoulder by Denis Fitzgerald or was the likeable coach genuinely ready to walkaway from a challenge that was seemingly too big.

Hagan announceed a press conference to confirm he was walking away from the Eels with 12 months still left to run on his agreement with Parramatta.

Formerly with the Knights, it initially seemed Hagan settled in well in 2007 – getting the Eels firing and narrowly missing the Grand Final – however, since then he’s been under the pump after the Eels never reach any heights in 2008. Some hinted at the loss of several players, such as Timana Tahu, Tim Smith and Ian Hindmarsh – while others felt the softly, softly approach of Hagan wasn’t bringing the players into line.

It was rumoured throughout the year that younger players, particularly the Polynesian juniors at the club didn’t warm to Hagan and there was constant disharmony. The transition from the hard line approach of Brian Smith, to Jason Taylor and then to the quietly spoken Michael Hagan seems to have run off the rails – with many feeling a middle ground coach is needed to steady the ship.

Former Eels lower grades and NZ Warriors mentor Daniel Anderson seems a virtual certainty to get the gig as coach of the Eels. Anderson recently leaving the UK after a highly successful stint with St Helens and is believed to be well liked and respected at the Eels; a role he would easily slip back into after several seasons at Parramatta under Brian Smith.

Michael Hagan was adamant however that other circumstances were responsible for his decision to walk.

“My daughters are in their final years of high school in Newcastle and the constant travel was taking its toll,” Hagan said.

“I’ve also got a number of issues with my personal health which I need to get sorted out.

“After much thought and discussion with those closest to me I decided it would be best to go now prior to the start of pre-season training.”

Eels chief executive Denis Fitzgerald said the club was surprised by Hagan’s decision but understood the reasoning for his decision and was sympathetic to his situation regarding his family and also his health. The decision if true, makes things easier for Denis Fitzgerald and the Eels – who were keeping a close eye on Hagan during the pre-season to see if he was up to the task of getting things back in shape. The Eels confirming Hagan only had the pre-season to prove himself, otherwise his contract would not be reviewed past 2009.

Fitzgerald said the club wouldn’t rush in to find a new coach but he expected to have a new head coach in place by December.

At this stage, assistant coaches David Fairleigh and Matthew Cameron would begin a caretaker role until a head coach is officially appointed.

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