Gus Gould should coach the NSW Blues
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Gus Gould - love him or hate him? He doesn't care. Image: Paul Miller / AAP
Last week, Ricky Stuart stated that if he was unable to continue coaching New South Wales in State of Origin next year, then Phil ‘Gus’ Gould should be given the reins of the Blues.
I believe it to be one of the more astute observations that Stuart has made.
On Sunday, Stuart confirmed that he will not be coaching the Blues in 2013, as the Parramatta Eels will need to be his sole coaching focus next year.
Stuart’s decision will only increase the speculation about Gould returning to Origin football, and I can see no reason why Gould shouldn’t be appointed to coach the Blues.
In fact, the more you analyse it, the more the decision becomes a complete no-brainer. Gus ticks all the boxes:
The Blues need someone with experience and a good coaching record? Gould remains the Blues most successful coach, winning six series, drawing one, and losing one.
The NSWRL remain adamant that the NSW coach cannot be employed as a full time coach at an NRL club? Gould is not currently coaching an NRL side, though he obviously has an attachment to the Penrith Panthers.
The Blues coach must be someone who definitively understands Origin football? Gould’s pre-game soliloquies to camera clearly demonstrate that he ‘gets’ what Origin is all about.
The Blues coach needs to be passionate about New South Wales? Gould bleeds sky blue.
The Blues coach needs to be respected by the playing group? When it comes to rugby league, few coaches are more respected than Gus.
The next coach needs to build on the foundation laid down by Ricky Stuart, rather than simply starting all over again? Gould and Stuart are cut from the same cloth, and Stuart has lent on Gould for advice and support many times during his coaching career. If anyone can replace Stuart and cause minimal disruption to the team, it’s Gould.
The Blues coach needs to add to the theatre and spectacle of Origin by engaging in some banter with Queensland? Gus is almost overqualified in this department, and north of the border, he is even more hated that Stuart.
Yet, all those questions, and the fact Gould answers them, are somewhat irrelevant. What’s most important for New South Wales is that Gould is a great coach. Forget all the peripheral stuff: Gus is master tactician and outstanding motivator.
He understand rugby league like a few others, and if anyone can get the best out of the Blues players, it’s Gould.
The Blues didn’t lack passion and commitment in the 2012 series, but their tactics and execution left a lot to be desired. If I could choose any individual to rectify those issues, the shortlist would include Des Hasler, Craig Bellamy, Wayne Bennett, Tim Sheens, Peter Sterling, Andrew Johns and Gus Gould.
From that list, Bellamy has had his chance, Bennett is a Queenslander, and both, along with Hasler, are full time NRL coaches. As is Sheens, who is also the Australian coach.
Meanwhile, Sterling doesn’t seem to want the job, and Johns has already declared himself as no chance.
That leaves Gould. Yet far from it simply being a case of ‘last man standing’, if I ranked all those candidates, Gould would still be my number one choice anyway.
Not everyone will agree with me. Unsurprisingly, News Limited’s Phil ‘Buzz’ Rothfield has already declared that Gus is ‘yesterday’s man’ and that the Blues should not appoint him. That’s just about all the endorsement for Gould that I need: if Buzz thinks it’s a bad idea, then it must be the right one.
Gus, it’s your state on the phone. They need you.
Are you going to answer the call?
Ryan is an ex-representative basketballer who shot too much, and a (very) medium pace bowler. He's been with The Roar as an expert since February 2011, has written for the Seven Network, and been a regular on ABC radio. Ryan tweets from @RyanOak.