Welcome back Potter: can Mick tame the Tigers?
For those too young or who have no desire to watch John Travolta play any role other than pretending to be Nicholas Cage in Face/Off, the TV series Welcome back Kotter was a mildly amusing romp.
In it the titular character, Mr Kotter, returned to his alma mater to teach an unruly bunch of delinquents known as ‘the Sweathogs’.
While rugby league coach Michael Potter may not have to put up with the wise-cracking Vinnie Barbarino or the uptight Vice Principal Woodman on his return to Sydney’s west, he is unfortunately soon to inherit a group that would make the Sweathogs look like the products of a strict Christian military reform school.
It usually takes a lot to steal the post-season overhaul column inches from the Roosters and Parramatta, but the Tigers have given it a bloody good crack this year.
There’s been some beautiful moments haven’t there?
Eight board meetings to decide to offer coach Tim Sheens the chance to quit his career and take up the job of working the hot dog cart out the front of Leichardt Oval. Beau Ryan and Chris ‘Pommy’ Heighington packing up and heading east for 2013.
Lote Tuqiri moving to sign a new contract faster than he’s moved since 2004.
Finally though it seems as if the Tigers board have made the decision to go ahead and give the green light to Potter, a man who must be starting to wonder if he’s been cursed by the football gods after his last club Bradford went broke during his stay, his boofhead Dragon teammates cost him an Australian World Cup spot in ’92 and now he’s being flick passed to the shambolic Tigers.
For a club that seems to have been thereabouts for a long time now, Wests suddenly have a bit of a whiff of the downward slide about them.
While he may have been used to turning a steampig’s ear into a silk purse at penniless Bradford, can Potter convince Braith Anasta to not play five eighth? Maybe have Benji Marshall let the rest of his team know before he’s going to do it?
And can he work out what Tim Moltzen’s supposed to be doing?
These are serious questions for serious times.
On a plus with the Tigers gun under-20s team Potter will have a fine base to draw on, and if he can get the best out of Bodene Thompson and a resurgent Eddie Pettybourne, Wests are capable of packing a good Sunday crowd in on the hill at Campbo and Leichardt if nothing else.
It is likely though that any significant results are going to take time, something that there’s less of in the NRL than tattoo free biceps.
Fellow former Super League gun coach Brian Mclennan’s swift exit from the Warriors in September showed that there’s no special treatment for former heroes, and that a couple of ‘Coach of the Year’ gongs aren’t much to hide behind at an angry press conference.
Personally though I’d like to wish Mr Potter all the best in his endeavours at Wests. He seems a likeable chap, was a great player and has achieved to date some good coaching results among extenuating circumstances.
Whether or not he can get his Sweathogs turning up on time and handing in their homework, though, remains to be seen.
Follow Chris on Twitter: @Vic_Arious
Chris Chard is a sports humour writer commenting on the often absurd nature of professional sport. A rugby league fan boy with a good blend of youth and experience taking things one week at a time, Chris has written for The Roar, Rugby League Player Magazine, US Sports Downunder, the QRL and People. Tweet him @Vic_Arious
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