From the Cheap Seats – Coaching Merry-Go-Round

The coaching Merry Go Round took another twist late last week with Wests Tigers head coach Ivan Cleary committing to the Penrith Panthers for 2021.

Phil Gould, Penrith’s Executive GM of Football must have a crystal ball or a flux capacitor (Back to the Future, kids)!

He obviously knows the club won’t win a Premiership in the next 2 seasons.

Cameron Ciraldo and the Penrith coaching staff must be filled with confidence knowing no matter what results he produces in the next 2 years, he will be punted in 2021 for Cleary.

At Manly, Trent Barrett looks like he will have to serve out his severance time of one year back dated to May 2018.

So Barrett will be head coach of a team and club he has no confidence in until May 2019.

In Brisbane, Wayne Bennett is committed to the 2019 season.

His last at Brisbane a club he has driven to countless success. However, his name has been mentioned as a potential Tigers coach should Cleary move on early.

Former South Sydney coach Michael Maguire has been mentioned as a potential Manly, Tigers and Broncos coach, depending on where the musical chairs stop.

South Sydney’s Anthony Seibold has been linked as Brisbane’s new long term Bennett replacement.

He is yet to commit to a new contract at the Rabbitohs so he may be on his way out.

In my time following Rugby League, I have never seen a time when coaches were the main commodity for off season signings.

Although, I am not shocked by anything in rugby league in the modern era.

Contracts do not amount to much. Clubs sack coaches, coaches have sought early releases in the past as with players.

My mind drifts to stories of Parramatta great Mick Cronin agreeing to a contract with a handshake only.

The potential switch by Cleary back to the Panthers is intriguing. Penrith sacked Cleary in 2015 and replaced him with Anthony Griffin.

After guiding the Panthers to the final series in 2017, Griffin signed a new 2 year contract despite rumours of a falling out with Phil Gould.

Safe with his new contract, Griffin endured a year of speculation about his future at the club.

Astonishingly, Griffin was sacked just prior to this years semi final series.

At the Tigers, Ivan Cleary was working wonders with a team who most expected to be a wooden spoon contender.

With a comment that Ivan would like to coach his very talented son Nathan at some point in their careers.

All hell seemed to break out about Ivan and Nathan.

With Ivan secured to the Tigers for 2019, most thought Cleary’s would commit to the Tigers long term.

Then the ridiculous started to happen. Rumours of an immediate release for Nathan to join the Tigers, rumours both father and son would sign for the Broncos.

The most unlikely was Ivan would go back to Penrith. Be serious; why would he go back to a club that showed little faith and sacked him. No chance.

At Manly, will he or won’t he was being played out. The vague press releases and Trent Barrett calling a press conference where he was unable to discuss his future due to legal reasons.

In my opinion, Manly management let Barrett down.

He was put out front to face the media on club matters generally left to the CEO to answer.

He asked for additional staff but was either denied or the process was very slow. What could go wrong did go wrong for the season.

It is obvious to everyone that Barrett wants out.

Management are not exactly showing they really want Barrett for next season but seem to be holding on to him to “honour” his contract.

Is this because they hold the high moral ground or are they doing it out of spite?

Either way, it frustrates the fans. It can’t be good for the playing group.

It’s not a great recruiting tool to entice a new coach. Seeing how Barrett is allegedly being treated.

The Tigers who were fighting for a semi final place late in the season seemed to fall away once rumours started to circulate that Cleary was on his way out of the club.

Most fans feel let down and shocked that Cleary would leave and go back to Penrith.

As a club, the Tigers may be disappointed with Cleary but they have their own history of sacking or moving coaches on to new roles.

Tim Sheens, Michael Potter and Jason Taylor have all fallen into that category.

Cleary’s son Nathan has just signed with the Panthers on a long term high paying contract.

This likely ensures that the Cleary’s will unite in 2021.

Here are a few of my predictions from the Cheap Seats:

  1. All is well that ends well. Cleary will unite with son Nathan for the 2019 season at Penrith where he was sacked in 2015.
  2. Not sure how the dynamics will work with Ivan, Gould and the Penrith players who would know he was recruited at the behest of Nathan.
  3. Bennett after playing all his cards leaves his beloved Broncos to join the Tigers.
  4. Robbie might try to return to Souths as that relationship will be very interesting to watch. Not sure Robbie or Benji will play much under Bennett.
  5. At Manly, John Cartwright will take over in 2019.

What are your thoughts on the coaching Merry go round and where will the coaches end up?

Thanks and be respectful to all who reply.

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