Some Eels fans will be cheering, others will be wondering why the club would want to start a new rebuilding
phase, with the 5th coach in 6 years leaving the club – but Eels coach Stephen Kearney has made the decision to step down as coach of the embattled club.
Although Kearney is yet to speak with Chairman Roy Spagnolo and CEO Bob Bentley as to how long he will be in the position before a care-taker comes in, he said that the decision was entirely his own, and that throughout his tenure as coach, he always tried his best.
“I’ve been unable to get results, and it is time for a change. I Tried my hardest”, said Kearney.
“I want to thank the playing staff, as well as both Roy [Spagnolo], and the Eels board”.
“I will sit down with Bob and Roy, and see how that pans out over the next few weeks”.
Kearney’s decision means that he can now focus on his other coaching duties, that is, as coach of the New Zealand Rugby League team – something that he is passionate about.
“This gives me the chance to focus on the New Zealand Rugby League and the Kiwis, in a role that I have always been passionate about”, Kearney said.
“This is a big opportunity for the NZRL, and I need to convince Kiwis to play for the Kiwis. It will require energy and time, and it is a full-time role.”
With the decision to resign his own, Kearney refused to point fingers at any one individual, and said that he would leave the club knowing he made a difference when it came to junior developments.
“I’m grateful for the experience the board has given me,” said Kearney.
“It’s one I’ve learnt a great deal from.
“I wish the Eels all the best for the future.
For Eels captain Nathan Hindmarsh, who was the only other person present at the Eels conference to speak, he said that the playing group respected Steve’s decision, and that they too could see the lasting impact that he will leave on the club for the future.
“The playing group supports Steve’s decision,” Hindmarsh said.
“He has put our junior and grassroots level in the right spot, and we wish him all the best.”
“Steve will leave, knowing he left the junior development in a good place”.
Despite continued criticism, Kearney always sought to see the light and the positive side of things, as he aimed to do what he could to ensure the team’s retention and development, of their young players.
“With Mitch Allgood, who went from a nobody to a rep player – as well as players like Sio, Blair and Morgan, that is the future for me,” Kearney said.
“I always tried to find the light, and made sure it was all about junior development”.
Despite the fingers being pointed at Kearney for the side’s poor form, Hindmarsh admitted that the players also needed to shoulder some of the blame for their poor season.
“It’s not ideal but my job as a rugby league player is to play rugby league and go out there and if that means winning so be it but if that means losing that’s something you’ve got to deal with as well,” Hindmarsh said.
“It’s been a disruptive year but we’ve got to go out there and do our best on the field on the weekend.