In what occupation can somebody still be paid handsomely to turn up for work after 25 years of chronic underperformance? Ask Brian Smith. He’s built a career out of it.
As a rugby league coach since 1984, Brian Smith has delivered not a single premiership to any club that he has mentored. That’s twenty-five years, at six clubs, in two countries, and zero premierships.
When somebody has twenty-five attempts at doing a job with all the resources that he needs and can’t achieve the desired goal even once, then something is rotten in the state of Denmark.
At what point does somebody have a quiet word in his ear that perhaps he should consider an alternative career?
As a chief string-puller in Australia, he has coached his team du jour to the semi-finals on no fewer than ten occasions, for three grand final appearances and three abject grand final defeats.
Two matches highlight how impotent Smith has been as a coach. Parramatta’s capitulation in the 2001 Grand Final to Newcastle (24-0 down at half time) and Parramatta’s 29-0 loss to North Queensland in the 2005 preliminary final.
Both were quintessential Brian Smith. He failed miserably. He had the cattle and the cattle were in peak form. Yet he didn’t have the capacity to motivate his players to lift for the occasion of winning a grand final or qualifying for a grand final.
Obviously Smith could not run, pass, kick or tackle for the players, but the simple fact is that he could also not find the words or the energy to trigger a performance when it mattered most.
In recent months Smith has given his current Roosters experiment, sorry club, some much needed discipline and structure as he drags his whiteboard around Bondi.
He may be the poster boy for all aspiring Mr Fixits out there with a track record of nurturing juniors and even occasionally breaking down opposing teams, but he still has the same number of first grade rugby league premierships to his name as Craig Bellamy. The same number as Kim Kardashian, for that matter.
To the Rooster supporter out there (please stand up so we can see you), the weekend’s 42-18 loss to the lamentable Cronulla side is a bleak sign of what lies ahead. Take the next three years to go backpacking through Eastern Europe and we’ll text through any premierships.
Don’t panic too much if you lose your phone.