Leading Super League and former NRL coach Daniel Anderson is the hardliner coach that Parramatta want to put things back together after a horror 2008 season on and off the field. With Hagan quitting the post, the Eels are set to appoint their former local man to the job of head coach.
Anderson has the required heavyweight backing from within the club. It’s believed that unless there is a major hurdle during negotiations, he will get the job.
Anderson knows the Eels infrastructure well and knows what it takes to succeed at the top level. It’s believed that Anderson has the right skills to mend broken bridges among dissenting juniors and senior players at the Eels; an issue that gave Hagan such a hard time during his reign.
Anderson is currently in the US after retiring from his recent post at English club St Helens. He was highly successful during his UK stint, similar to his time with the New Zealand Warriors, getting the Kiwis into the 2002 NRL grand final. He has also coached the NZ national team.
But it was at Parramatta that Anderson began his coaching days – starting in the junior grades and working under the highly experienced Brian Smith, and he remains well respected by most Eels senior officials.
Insiders at the club say Anderson, who has a reputation as a strict disciplinarian as well as being an excellent tactician, is exactly the type of coach it needs to lead Parramatta to a recovery after a year in which there were consistently poor performances on the field. The off-field problems were highlighted by representative star Jarryd Hayne being shot at Kings Cross at 4am.
Hagan, who cited family and health reasons and a loss of passion for coaching as the reasons he quit with one year left on his contract, was loath to criticise his players, but he said in leaving yesterday that there were some young players at Parramatta – as there were at other clubs – who, by their actions, had shown a lack of respect for the game.
Anderson is returning to Sydney to live, whether he has a job or not. He will settle with his family near Parramatta. His manager, Jim Banaghan, phoned him yesterday to tell him that Hagan had quit and opened up one of the most sought-after jobs in the competition.
“Daniel felt sorry for Michael Hagan, under the circumstances,” Banaghan said. “But it is only natural that he was extremely interested in the job, now that it has become vacant. He described it as a tremendous opportunity, and asked me to tell [Parramatta chief executive] Denis Fitzgerald that he wants to be considered.”
Banaghan spoke to Fitzgerald yesterday, and said he planned to speak to him again in the next couple of days. He said Anderson was due to return to Sydney on November 4.
“Daniel and Parramatta would be a match made in heaven,” Banaghan said. “He grew up in the district, he went to Parramatta Marist [High School] and he did very well as a coach at Parramatta, before the Warriors picked him up. He describes himself as a true-blue Westie. He’s been to New Zealand and England with his family, but he told his kids that as soon as the first one was ready for high school, they would all head home to Sydney. That’s what he’s doing now.
Fitzgerald said Anderson, Parramatta assistant coach David Fairleigh and Eels Toyota Cup coach Matt Cameron were all contenders for the job. He said Sharks assistant and former Parramatta lower-grade coach Shane Flanagan could also come under consideration and that experienced coaches who did not have positions next year, including former Bulldogs coach Steve Folkes, were welcome to register interest.
Asked about Anderson, Fitzgerald said his experience in coaching first grade was an advantage and that he intended speaking to him when he returned to Sydney. Banaghan said he was confident that, if talks began, Anderson and Parramatta could work out a deal.
Hagan told Parramatta’s star player, Nathan Hindmarsh, of his resignation by phone on Monday. night. Hindmarsh, who is holidaying in Bali, said yesterday Anderson, Fairleigh, Cameron and Flanagan were all terrific contenders.
“Daniel was my first coach at Parra, in SG Ball,” Hindmarsh said. “I got on well with him. He’s a good bloke and he’s got that bit of mongrel in him, where, if you get out of line, you’ll quickly hear about it.” Hindmarsh said he was sad to see Hagan leave the club.