Roosters coach fighting his own history
Roosters (L-R) Mitchell Aubusson, Anthony Minichiello, Braith Anasta and Jason Ryles during the NRL round 1. AAP Image/Action Photographics, Renee McKay
It’s the gift that keeps on giving. Brian Smith and his Sydney Roosters continue to flounder in 2012 and are in serious jeopardy of being handed the wooden spoon.
For opposition fans across the National Rugby league, nothing could be sweeter.
The spluttering old Roosters have returned after reaching the Telstra premiership decider in 2010. Since then they have placed 11th in 2011 and now sit on 19 competition points with three rounds to play.
Even more distressing for the Roosters is that the only two teams below them on the table have been resurgent in recent weeks. Parramatta Eels and Penrith Panthers might just overtake them.
Their veteran coach Smith has had to answer the same questions that have followed him at every club he has ever worked at.
“It (this season) definitely has been disappointing,” Smith told a Roosters Members coach’s forum on Tuesday.
“No one is hurting more than I am, but sometimes the deeper the cut the more the lesson learned.
“There have been some times we have done quite well (during games) and other times we have not finished the job. Not finishing off winning performances is the difference in being in the run for the eight and not being there.”
Smith will need to fight his own history if the Roosters are to fire next season. More importantly though, he needs them to fire to save his career.
After getting the St George Dragons to the grand final in both 1992 and 1993, things started to fizzle out at Kogarah. With the Super League war just around the corner, Smith struggled to keep players at the club.
The Dragons placed eleventh in ‘94 and seventh in ‘95. They made the finals in the latter, but the coach was willingly on his way out after taking up a job with the Parramatta Eels.
Parramatta were hot favourites to take out the 2001 title, only to fall flat on their faces after going down to an Andrew Johns-inspired Newcastle Knights outfit.
From there they placed sixth, ninth, 12th, won a minor premiership in 2005 only to be bundled out of the playoffs, and eighth in 2006.
Smith could see the writing on the wall but never had the chance to jump this time.
In three seasons at the Newcastle Knights, Smith’s men only made September on one occasion. Smith would jump ship again.
So here Smith is again.
The Roosters are terrible. The coach is answering questions and will be relying on men he has never met before to save his job next year.
Sonny Bill Williams will return to rugby league in 2013 after a long sabbatical in rugby union and James Maloney will join the club from the hapless New Zealand Warriors.
“If he (Williams) finishes up playing for us or anyone else in the NRL, any other club will be envious because he is a high-quality rugby-league player.”
“We have a couple of players coming to our club next season who will make a real difference” Smith said.
“James Maloney is a real footballer in his own right. He is a great team player. I’m excited enough about him to say he will get the job done. But that’s not enough, we all need to work hard.
“I’m excited about the combination he and Mitchell Pearce can build together.”
If Smith is hedging his bets on a bloke who hasn’t played in the NRL for five years and a guy struggling for form across the ditch, the coach is in trouble.
The big question is, will he be pushed or will he jump?