WHO would want to be an NRL coach in 2014?
Imagine going to the bank to apply for a home loan when you can’t even guarantee you’ll still be employed six weeks into the competition.
That’s how much pressure they are under these days.
With the season about to start, there are five coaches preparing to kick-off NRL campaigns knowing their jobs are on the line.
Steve Price at the Dragons, Mick Potter at the Tigers, Matthew Elliott at the Warriors, John Cartwright at the Titans and Anthony Griffin at the Broncos are all under the pump.
This is no exaggeration. Look at the last three seasons where an average three coaches have been punted every year. Nine in three years.
In 2011 it was Ivan Henjak at the Broncos, Kevin Moore at the Bulldogs and Matt Elliott at the Panthers. None of them even lasted until the final round.
The following years it was Brian McLennan at the Warriors, Brian Smith at the Roosters, Stephen Kearney at Parramatta and Tim Sheens at the Tigers.
The fact they all had contracts meant absolutely nothing.
At least most get their contracts paid out or negotiated a decent settlement. Not Sheens.
He’s a few weeks off going to court to try to get his final 12 month’s pay from the Wests Tigers after payments were cut off last year.
Up until last season, the Canberra Raiders had never sacked a first grade coach until Dave Furner was shown the door.
At the Cowboys, Neil Henry got a 12-month contract extension – and then the sack six weeks later.
This is despite the fact they stormed home and made the semi-finals. It shows that even recent success doesn’t guarantee anything.
Look at poor Daniel Anderson at Parramatta in 2010, dumped just 12 months after steering the Eels into the grand final.
Most of the sackings become career-enders. Of the nine punted in the last three years, only Elliott still has an NRL head coaching job.
A few are still involved in the game in less stressful positions, the others are just doing their best.
I won’t name him but one is struggling from severe financial hardship and can’t meet repayments on investments.
In this industry, failure is always the coach’s fault, never the players, the board, or the chief executive.
If St George-Illawarra lose five of their first six games, Steve Price will go, not Peter Doust.
It’s his third season since replacing Wayne Bennett and he has only a 37.5 percent win record.
It doesn’t matter that it was actually Doust’s and the board’s call to put him in the job. No, it’s all the coach’s fault.
Of all the coaches this season, Price and the Wests Tigers’ Mick Potter are under the most pressure on the eve of the kick-off.
Potter was actually gone last year and only a late change of heart saved him as they were preparing his redundancy.
Again, it doesn’t matter that he inherited his roster from the old coach and the old management, who inexplicably let Andrew Fifita, Beau Ryan, Chris Heighington and co.
No it’s Potter’s fault. Surely this new board will at least give him time to work with one of the best young rosters in the competition. But it’s unlikely.
On the Gold Coast John Cartwright is in a similar position. Probably even shakier because CEO Graham Annesley has a ready-made replacement in Neil Henry already there.
At the other end of the scale, only four coaches could be considered 100 percent safe and secure.
Des Hasler and Michael McGuire (both signed contract extensions last week), Trent Robinson at the Roosters and Craig Bellamy at Storm.
They at least have enough recent runs on the board to afford short-term failure.
The Daily Telegraph