Cronulla Sutherland coach Ricky Stuart has come out swinging in the Daily Telegraph today, taking aim at former Sharks playmaker Brett Kimmorley after the Bulldogs were banished from the NRL Finals at the hands of the Parramatta Eels.
After reading Ricky’s article on ‘Why he sacked Brett Kimmorley’ – it seems that Stuart is looking for someone else to blame for Cronulla’s continued poor form.
It’s well known that Stuart and Kimmorley didn’t get on.
But while the Sharks continue to struggle to win games, it seems the coach needs to really prioritize and focus on the massive task at hand, rather than ‘bag’ former players.
Stuart previously had been in a long drawn out war of words with former friend and mentor Phil Gould over their fallout at the Roosters. And it seemed that Stuart took a long time to get over his feud with Gus too. There will always be people you don’t get on with, or fallout with – certainly in the ‘close knit’ NRL world.
Phil Gould does have a unique, at times ‘full-on’ personality. But there is no questioning the experience, ability and nous of Gould to coach a football team. Gus reads a game better than anyone I know. While I haven’t personally met the man, listening to him predict, decipher and review a game leaves no doubt – this man has a special understanding of the game.
Topping it off, Gould has the unique ability to get the best out of players. That brisk personality that some viewers struggle to connect with still commands the respect of players and his war stories prior to kick-off or at half-time are widely spoken of by players that have nothing but praise for him.
Now before I turn this into a Gus love-fest, my point here is that the Ricky/Gus fallout was a situation where in my opinion Stuart failed to take on board the advice of another.
Stuart seems to be a highly motivated, work-a-holic coach. From everyone I talk to, the guy simply lives and breathes his job. He is to be commended for this.
But sometimes, you just need to throw your hand up and say hey, how do you think we should do this?
This is where I think the Noddy and Ricky problem started.
Both players are Premiership winning halfbacks, maybe it was a case of two confident men clashing?
For starters, the Cronulla forward pack never gave Kimmorley enough domination during games or anywhere near the room he needed to perform.
Yes, the Sharks made the NRL Finals in 2008 – but a lot of this was due to Kimmorley’s ability. The guy was playing behind an average forward pack, yet was still able to get his team home on several occasions.
For Stuart to come out today and claim that Kimmorley isn’t a big match player is really insulting and almost laughable. This should really strike fear into the hearts of Sharks fans.
Why is their coach so concerned with past players and not their problem at hand?
When Kimmorley was at Cronulla, he got them close to a Minor Premiership and into the NRL Finals – all behind a no-name, average forward pack and lesser-known players.
The halfback is tossed out by the Sharks and arrives at wooden-spoon bound Belmore and takes them close to a Grand Final.
Oh, but hang on – the no.7 also had metal plates inserted only 3 weeks earlier and was playing against the advice of some Doctors.
Not a big match player? Come on Ricky – you cannot be serious?
Kimmorley has won a Premiership and there is no doubting the ability of this guy, not only as a player but as a football brain.
Just look at the interaction between Kimmorley and new coach Kevin Moore. The son of Bullfrog has been outstanding in his rookie year, but most importantly – he put his ego aside and was happy to allow Kimmorley’s input at training and in game plans.
Why wouldn’t anyone accept the input of a talent like Kimmorley?
If you ever take the time to listen to Noddy on Foxtel’s NRL Tactics – you will be left with no doubt, that the veteran half is highly skilled in his ability to read the game and predict outcomes.
I honestly believe that Brett Kimmorley will make a top-line Rugby League coach when his playing days are over.
For Stuart – I also believe that he has the ability to rebuild the Cronulla Sharks. Again, there are few as committed, driven and passionate as Ricky Stuart.
But Sticky’s outburst should have Sharks faithful concerned, the coach needs to start focusing directly on Cronulla and not worry about past failures, former players or commentators that ‘criticize’ him in the media.
The Sharks have been in wooden spoon land all season, their squad have tried their guts out – full credit to them, but they aren’t up to NRL standard across the board.
Yes, injuries did play a part – as they do to most teams in the modern day NRL.
But Stuart may be well served to heed the advice of others. Yes Sticky has won comps as a player and recently as a coach – and for this he should be congratulated – but sometimes admitting your wrong comes as the hardest thing of all. If the Sharks coach can bury and forget plenty of hatchets – he will go all the way to NRL glory once again.