Coaches unsure on Stuart dual league role
NRL coaches Des Hasler and Shane Flanagan feel NSW shouldn’t abandon the model of having a full-time State of Origin coach, even if it means losing current mentor Ricky Stuart.
With Stuart set to be unveiled as Stephen Kearney’s successor at Parramatta before the end of the week – signing a three-year deal to turn around the fortunes of the embattled Eels – his two-year stint as NSW coach will come under review.
The NSW Rugby League (NSWRL) are keen to avoid returning to a part-time coach with NRL commitments despite Stuart’s desire to hold both positions.
Stuart was appointed as the Blues’ first full-time coach late in 2010, as the NSWRL aped the model used by Queensland after Mal Meninga had delivered the Maroons five consecutive series wins at that time.
Although Stuart hasn’t been able to break that winning streak in the past two series, his appointment as a full-time coach has been largely hailed as a success.
Both Flanagan and Hasler believe it’s a system that should be retained.
“I’m not quite sure about that,” Cronulla coach Flanagan said when asked if Stuart should be allowed to do both the Eels and Blues jobs.
“I think it’s probably a good model they’ve got at the moment, but if Sticky wants to do it again, he’ll do it again.”
Premiership coach Hasler said the full-time model had proven itself to be a good one but, if Stuart was to juggle both jobs, NSW would need to make sure he had good support staff.
“It just depends on the personnel and who you’ve got running it in there,” he said.
“I know Ricky did a lot of work in the lead-up to it in getting it all prepared – that’s where it gets a bit onerous.”
Regardless of what happens with the NSW position, Stuart faces a tough task in bringing success back to Parramatta Stadium.
Kearney ended with just 10 wins from his 42 matches at the Eels – the team failing to win back-to-back matches during his two-year tenure.
But Flanagan, Stuart’s former assistant coach at the Sharks, believes the former NSW and Australian halfback is the right man for the situation at the Eels.
“He’s the best coach going around at the moment, that’s available on the market,” he said.
“Parramatta are a great club. I’ve got a lot of time for them – I spent 10 years there.
“No one likes to see what’s going on (there) … but I think we all go through it at different stages.”
Eels halfback Chris Sandow backed up Flanagan’s belief in Stuart, saying he was the ideal man for a crisis.
“We need someone like that to come in, as we’ve had some difficult circumstances this year,” Sandow said.
“Ricky is an Origin coach and that can only be good for us.”
Sandow has been disappointing at the Eels after a big-money switch from South Sydney in the off-season, but says Stuart’s experience as a former superstar No.7 will help him develop.
“He was the Australian halfback and it will be good to have him here and see what he says,” he said.
Not even Stuart’s renowned intensity has the mercurial playmaker too concerned.
“You see Ricky on the TV carrying on and getting up the players and that is something we will have to adapt to as we are a young squad,” he said.
“You just have to take it on board. I am sure it is meant well and it just makes you want to prove them wrong.”© AAP 2013
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