Coaches "safety ratings"

Absolute Superstar
Brad Arthur B+ LOL

NRL 2022 Coach safety ratings: Who is under the pump and facing the sack?​

It is the position with the worst job security in rugby league. Check out how safe your coach is heading into the 2022 season

Nick Walshaw, Fatima Kdouh, Nick Campton, Dean Ritchie, Nick Smart, Michael Carayannis, Chris Honnery, Travis Meyn, David Riccio and Peter Badel

8 min read
January 14, 2022 - 4:00PM
News Corp Australia Sports Newsroom
It is the position with the worst job security in rugby league. Check out how safe your coach is heading into the 2022 season.

With just one season at the Dragons under his belt and in the midst of a clean-out, Anthony Griffin should be safe for at least one more season.

Before the infamous barbecue tore the heart out of St George Illawarra’s season they were on track to defy the odds and make the finals, and even in the aftermath Griffin managed to blood plenty of youngsters who will form part of the club’s next generation of stars.

There are plenty of new faces and moving parts for the Red V in 2022 and it might take some time for all the pieces to fit — but if the wooden spoon favourites match the bookies’ expectations for them early on the drums will start beating for Griffin.

Safety rating: C+
Nick Politis jokes that Trent Robinson will remain as coach long after the powerful chairman is gone. Robinson, who is now the Roosters most-capped coach, is contracted until the end of next season but there is little doubt he will extend his time at the club. Has already won three titles and guided the club to the finals in all but one of his nine years at the club. He lost no admirers after their injury ravaged 2021 season. Would be in demand if he ever wanted to head elsewhere but shows no signs of that.
Safety rating: A+
Craig Fitzgibbon enters the NRL furnace as the Sharks’ head coach until 2024, having finally taken the long-awaited step up after serving an apprenticeship under Trent Robinson at the Roosters. Finals football and a return to their hardened defensive culture is what Cronulla are demanding. That’s upon what Fitzgibbon will be measured. New recruits Cameron McInnes, Nicho Hynes and Dale Finucane will help his cause greatly.
Safety rating: A
Michael Maguire is signed until 2023. Narrowly avoided the axe at the end of last season after the now infamous review into his performance. No coach will start under the microscope more than Maguire.
Despite being given a guarantee he will see out the year, that endorsement will quickly evaporate if they begin the season poorly. Maguire isn’t helped by the fact Adam Doueihi will miss the first 10 rounds with a knee injury, while new signings Apisai Koroisau and Isaiah Papali’i won’t arrive until the following season.
Safety rating: D-
With a new coach at the helm, in Nathan Brown, and another season away from their home base in New Zealand, it’s very easy to give the Warriors a bit of slack after another season without a finals appearance. Brown has two years left on his deal and it’s fair to say his side didn’t markedly improve on season 2020. While disruptions caused by Covid are a legitimate excuse, Brown has a roster at his disposal that realistically should be playing finals football. If he’s to extend his time with the club beyond season 2023, Brown needs to find results.

Safety rating: C

Justin Holbrook’s position is one of the safest in the competition following his incredible transformation of the Gold Coast club. Holbrook is contracted with the Titans until the 2024 season. In his first two years in charge, he has dragged the Titans from their wooden spoon finish in 2019 to a ninth and an eighth-place finish with him as head coach. The players have bought in to his coaching style and it looks set to reap them the rewards in the coming years.

Safety rating: A

Safe as houses. The bigger question is how long will Craig Bellamy stay as head coach? He will coach Storm in 2022 and then will have the flexibility to reassess his position and either coach on or transition into an advisory role as part of his contract until 2026. Storm will want him to coach on in 2023, but the dramas of this off-season may have taken a toll on the super coach. The will-he-or-won’t he in 2023 will no doubt be a story next season. Has coached Storm since 2003.

Safety rating: A+
How quickly things change. Des Hasler started last season with a new deal that was signed after negotiations dragged out for eight months. A contract clause meant Hasler needed a finals appearance in his next two years to trigger an extension into 2023. When Manly equalled their worst start to a season, losing their opening four games at a combined score of 156-34, things looked bleak. But Hasler then led the Sea Eagles to 16 victories from their remaining 20 games to charge into the top four before a preliminary final loss to South Sydney.

At least another two seasons at Manly will allow him to eclipse the late Bob Fulton’s record of 307 games as Sea Eagles coach.

Under Hasler, Tom Trbojevic had a career year that culminated with him being named Dally M Medallist. But he also unlocked the potential of Reuben Garrick, who led the NRL in scoring, and was one of three Sea Eagles, along with Trbojevic and Jason Saab, to finish in the top five tryscorers.

Expect more of the same in 2022, if he can manage Manly’s lack of hooker options.

Safety rating: B

Talk about batting after Bradman. Is there a more daunting proposition for a rookie NRL coach than taking the baton from the greatest mentor of them all, seven-time premiership winner Wayne Bennett?

Jason Demetriou accepts he is no Bennett, but after spending five years as an assistant to
the super coach at the Broncos and South Sydney, the man affectionately known as ‘JD’ has served a pretty handy apprenticeship.

The 45-year-old knows all eyes will be on him at Redfern in 2022. It’s one thing to impress as a right-hand man to Bennett.

It’s an entirely more onerous scenario taking charge of the most famous club in the league, having lost big-name quartet Adam Reynolds, Jaydn Su’A, Dane Gagai and Benji Marshall, who played key roles in Souths’ charge to last season’s grand final.

There is no question Demetriou deserves his shot as an NRL head coach. He has won premierships in the second tier with Northern Pride and Illawarra Cutters and was an assistant to Paul Green when the Cowboys won their maiden title in 2015.

Demetriou has a brilliant tactical mind and is renowned for his strong relationships with players. He will be expected to steer Souths to a fifth consecutive finals series in 2022, but if they miss out, club bosses won’t be hitting the panic button. Demetriou is contracted for 2023 with an option in the club’s favour for 2024.

Safety rating: B

Ricky Stuart is under contract until the end of 2023 and despite Canberra’s underwhelming performance last season, Stuart will be in charge of the Raiders for just about as long as he wants. The coach and the club are inextricably linked and the finals runs of 2019 and 2020 still loom large in the memory. A return to the finals certainly wouldn’t hurt, but the Raiders will have to sink to far lower depths before Stuart’s position comes under question.

Safety rating: C
Ivan Cleary not only cemented his future with this year’s NRL grand final win, but also ensured he will never own that ugliest, and most unwanted, of rugby league coaching hoodoos – most premiership games without a title. Of course, Coach Cleary has a few other things going for him too. Like, say, his overseeing the strongest defence wall anywhere in the competition. Or the fact players right through the club want to win for him. Throw in too that small matter of him being the old man to a Panthers No.7 who isn’t only the club’s best player now, but could eventually sit among the Panthers greatest ever.

Safety rating: A+

Now in his third year at Newcastle, Adam O’Brien is facing the greatest test of his NRL career in 2022. Despite making the finals for the past two years – and breaking some major club hoodoos along the way – O’Brien must now go a step further by turning his squad into a genuine finals threat. Which is a goal, of course, made so much tougher by the loss of Mitchell Pearce. As you will see below, Pearce’s departure impacts the club in almost every key area — including the coach’s fortunes. Certainly the Knights head office has plenty of faith in the young coach, who is signed until 2024 and has already hit some significant milestones in charge. In his debut year, the former Melbourne Storm assistant returned Newcastle to finals footy for the first time in seven years. Then in his second, took them to back-to-back playoffs for the first time in almost 20 years. Now, the goal is to create a side that, once into the finals, is capable of winning the season’s biggest games.

Safety rating: B+
The powers that be at Parramatta have rewarded Brad Arthur with a contract extension that will keep the coach at the club until the end of 2024.

For Arthur, a premiership, or at the very least a grand final appearance, in the next three years will be the only thing to silence the critics that are questioning if the coach is the right person to break Parramatta’s 36-year title drought. Even with the security of a fresh contract the pressure on Arthur to deliver, and delivery quickly, is unlikely to disappear. Parramatta are focused on building a reputation as an NRL powerhouse club and winning titles is the first step in cementing that perception.

Safety rating: B+
After an underwhelming first year at the helm, Todd Payten can only improve from here. It would be a rather bad look for the club to punt a second coach in as many years but the pressure still remains on Payten to bring the Cowboys out of the NRL doldrums – where they have been languishing for the past three seasons. The former Warriors coach is contracted with North Queensland until the end of 2023 and now with a season under his belt already will be looking to see some improvement from his squad in 2022.

Safety rating: C

Trent Barrett’s first year at the helm was one to forget with just three wins and a wooden spoon finish for the proud club. In Barrett’s defence, he arrived at Belmore to deal with the legacy of the club’s salary cap mess and a roster that could not compete with the rest of the competition. To Barrett’s credit, and those of his players, the Bulldogs played with effort and tried hard but did not have the class to turn effort into points. Barrett has two seasons left on his deal and recently received ultimate assurance when the club’s new general manager of football Phil Gould gave the coach his tick of approval. While Barrett’s future will ultimately be decided by results and those in higher office than the general manager, an ally like Gould can only be a good thing for Barrett’s Belmore tenure.

Safety rating: D+

Kevin Walters is entering the most important season of his career.

Walters’ debut season as an NRL head coach in 2021 was mostly one to forget.

The Broncos started the year poorly and it wasn’t until late in the season that they started to find some consistency in their performances.

At this stage, Walters does not have a contract beyond the 2022 season and with that brings tremendous pressure.

The Broncos may be hoping to see more improvement from the NRL team before committing to a longer term with Walters.

However there will also be enormous scrutiny on the coach if he enters the season off-contract.
The Broncos may look to buy themselves some time and get rid of some pressure by offering Walters an extension that will allow him to focus on coaching without the external noise.
But he will have to make some big improvements with this team in 2022 if he wants to be a long-term head coach in the NRL.

Safety rating: D
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Reserve Grader
I kind of agree with most of it, even des with a B, but Brad Arthur and O'Brien both B+?????
Agreed that will do me! O'Brien will be gone by the end of the season! Arthur will be under a lot of pressure should parra continue their consistent underwhelming finish to seasons!
First Grader
Premium Member
I reckon Maguire could be gone by mid season and Sheck has been the salvation of NZ, so Brown has a big job getting consistency and will feel heat.....if Barrett, after all these signings does not have a much improved Dogs team, there will be no 2023....Arthur should be a C at best and must have mates in the media
KT 623
Premium Member
Tipping Comp 2021
I think Fitzgibbon will go alright in his first gig at the top job.He’s a tough nut. And they’ve bought well with Hynes, McInnes,and Finucane.
Tipping Comp 2021
Such is the life of an NRL coach a 0 5 start could see anyone of them under the pump.
Call me a sadist but would love to see Boo Boo go 0 6 with is bought players.

Results this season will depend which players are available more than any other.
Reserve Grader
Quite a few of Brad Arthur's players will take the field this year thinking about the new club they will be playing for in 2023. That alone should see his 'B+' revised back to a C or D.

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