BROWNIE: Lots of strong options for Blues coaching job
Former NSW State of Origin player Brad Fittler (Image: AAP)
I’ve heard a lot of people complaining that there aren’t many suitably qualified candidates to take over as the Blues coach from Ricky Stuart. I disagree.
I’m sure Ricky would have loved to have been able to continue coaching NSW, but he no doubt realises the enormity of the task ahead at the Eels and the increasingly demanding nature of State of Origin means that juggling the two roles is practically an impossibility.
For now, at least.
Full credit to him, both for his decision to step aside and for the wonderful job he did at the helm of the Blues.
When he came in, NSW were struggling. He was hired to put a lot of things in place that he wouldn’t have been able to do if he wasn’t doing the job fulltime. And he has done that with admiral passion and dedication.
So whoever gets to take over will inherit a system and a team that is in the best shape it’s been in for a long time.
One of Stuart’s strengths as an Origin coach is that he understands the differences between club football and Origin football. They are two very unique competitions.
And he spoke from experience, having been a successful player in the Origin arena.
When he made himself unavailable, he endorsed Gus Gould as his replacement. But Gus has his hands full already with his work commitments with the Panthers, Channel 9, and the Sun-Herald.
So he turned it down.
Who’s left now?
From my own past experience as an assistant to Gus in the Origin camp, I’d like to think someone would come into the role with a lot of experience.
But some of the best potential candidates actually have limited club coaching experience. They have, though, coached at rep level and they have extensive experience as former Origin players themselves.
I’m referring to Laurie Daley, Trent Barrett, and Brad Fittler, in particular.
Any one of them would do a great job if they were offered the role.
A bolter, perhaps, is the former Bulldogs mentor, Steve Folkes, who did a terrific job at Canterbury for a decade before he paid the price for remaining loyal to some of his players.
His record was great at the Bulldogs, making two grand finals and the finals every year. He would certainly bring a lot of experience to the mix, especially as he was a former Origin player himself.
Another option is Daniel Anderson, who I think is a very good coach who just got the wrong end of the stick at a couple of clubs. He has a solid record of success at Parramatta, the Warriors, and St Helens.
So at the end of the day, while Ricky will be missed, ultimately everyone is replaceable. It’s how they replace them that is important.
Whoever is offered the position, I’m sure Ricky and Gus wil make themselves available to help them adapt successfully into the role.
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