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2013 Dally M Coach of the Year could be NRL’s best ever Roar Guru

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    Sydney Roosters coach Trent Robinson has copped a huge fine for his spray at the NRL's refs - but he was right about one thing. (Image: AAP)

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    I met Trent Robinson at a café in 2010 and had no idea who he was or what he did. What I did know was that he was no mug and that he was decisive in his opinion about rugby league.

    I soon found out that the guy I had words with was Brian Smith’s assistant coach at the Roosters and he was in charge of defence.

    It was no surprise that the Roosters were the second best defensive team that year and went on to play the Dragons in the grand final, who were the best defensive team, eventually going down 32-8.

    Trent challenged me in a statement that I made in the café about a player and I rushed home to check it out only to find that the quietly spoken unassuming guy I had just met had gazumped me.

    You see, I don’t like being wrong on a subject that I pride myself on always trying to be correct, but I felt a little better when I found out that ‘Robbo’ had the advantage of aerial video. Hah, small consolation, but something I guess.

    You know when you meet someone and you know they are going places? Well that was the impression that Trent Robinson left me with but I didn’t expect that place would be France.

    Robbo was off to coach the Catalan Dragons and I followed his career as he took them from the bottom to play in the finals and achieve a 59 percent win rate with them.

    The astute Sydney Roosters chairman Nick Politis must have also had a footy chat with Robbo as he was impressed enough to offer him the head coaching position.

    At 35 he is the youngest in the NRL. Robbo became only the second rookie coach to win the Minor Premiership.

    There was never any doubt in my mind that Politis had taken a misplaced punt and come up with another Freddy Fittler, who turned out to be a fizzer with the clipboard, but to think that the Roosters could win the Minor Premiership and be odds on to win the NRL Premiership is a stunning achievement.

    Robbo will be named the Dally M Coach of the Year tonight but what I find amazing is that he has improved every one of his players and shown poor defenders how to buy into his system and prevent opposition tries.

    Robbo has at least three players in his named 17 each week who I consider borderline first graders, but he somehow finds a way to make them blend into his system and compliment the team.

    The second mistake I made with Robbo was to tell him before Round 1 this year that his veteran fullback Anthony Minichiello was “past it”.

    It is probably the only time that I have seen him animated and I am sure I noticed steam coming from his ears.

    I pointed out to the budding coach that last season’s top five teams had the top five fullbacks and that ‘Mini’ these days was not up to the level of Slater, Inglis, Barba, Brett Stewart and Dugan (Hayne was injured).

    Robbo appointed Mini as his captain and he has led the Roosters into this year’s grand final.

    Excuse me while I wipe the egg off my face.

    Robbo has shown that good defence is not just about the individual and his reputation.

    If you take each of the Roosters backline a strong runner like Greg Inglis would have little problem in running either through them or around them, but when they are supported by a teammate and they have ‘bought in’ to the Robbo system, then all of a sudden a poor defender starts to look rock solid.

    Let us take the Roosters left side as an example.

    Dan Tupou, Michael Jennings and James Maloney (leads the NRL in missed tackles) are all noted poor defenders, especially laterally, but the fact is that they have not been overly exposed all season that has led to opposition tries as the back rower, usually Boyd Cordner, runs shotgun for them.

    This is the same group that kept the star Manly attack to zero points on September 4.

    Manly get their gun fullback Brett Stewart back for the grand final, who was missing when his team went down four to nil only three weeks ago to the Roosters, but I for one won’t be telling Robbo that the result will be any different this time.

    I hate being gazumped.

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    The Crowd Says (53)

    • October 1st 2013 @ 4:17am
      Johnno said | October 1st 2013 @ 4:17am | ! Report

      Scott a good article “At 35 he is the youngest in the NRL. Robbo became only the second rookie coach to win the Minor Premiership”.
      Funny that coaches mature at different times. Nathan Brown was young and not up to it. But Phillip Ronald Gould, won his 1st premiership at 30 in 1988.Gus did alot at a young age. Wayne Bennett was 42 when he won his 1st title. But he did some stuff in the QLD comp in the 80’s, was assistant raiders coach to Don Furner in 1987 last grand final at the SCG. Ricky Stuart was 35 in 2002.
      I think Warren Ryan after Bennett and Jack Gibson is the 3rd best coach of all time. I don’t know much about clive churchill’s coaching record, I heard he was quite good. And Bozo of course.Warren Ryan played total rugby league. I wish he had a shot coaching in state of origin the blues, and the Kangaroos, but he never seemed to get offered those jobs. Blokes like Terry Fearnley seemed to beat him to those jobs. Warren Ryan’s bulldog sides didn’t take any crap from Parramatta Eels either. He pushed those great eels sides of the 80’s hard. He made 3 straight GF’S, beat them in 84,beat dragons in 85, and was despratley unlucky to lose 4-2 to the Eels in 86. The bloke could coach.

      Also for some more trivia, Warren Ryan took a deadbeat rabble at Newtown Jets in 81, to the grand final, pushing the great eels side every step of the way, leading 11-7 late in the 2nd half of the GF, they were eventually run down 20-11. But Warren Ryan has a touch of Guss Hiddink in him. He likes building clubs, and works well with underdogs sides with backs to the wall. He did good things at his time at the knights

      He also took Balmain to the 1988 grand final and 89 GF. 1988 he made the grand final from a play-off for 5th spot, and probably would have one the GF is Ellery Hanley wasn’t taken out, in today’s game Terry Lamb would have been sent off. 1989 hot day, he had the raiders on the rack it was a hot sydney day in spring. His big tigers forwards ran out of puff, i still think he did the right thing takeing blocker and sirro off, it was a hot day no interchange rule. And Benny Elias, cross bar field goal miss was only 1cm short of going over.

      He did good things at Newcastle too. It was the night the Knights self-destructed, squandering a seemingly unassailable 16-2 half-time lead against the Sydney Roosters in the 2000 preliminary final to lose 26-20 and fall one game short of a grand final date with the Wayne Bennett-coached Brisbane Broncos.
      So all in all Warren Ryan sure could coach, he was an 1989 grand final king. And he had great ability to work the media, hence he’s in it now, and he had great ability to get under the skin of the Parramatta eels, great side they were, but they knew Warren Ryan never took any crap from them. A bit like Alan Jones, as wallaby coach never took any crap from the AB’S, he was the most hated man in NZ in 1986 when he won the Bledisloe. He was a handy coach at Balmain tigers who did some good things, and had some bad luck.
      Warren Ryan was good like that too, as say an Alan Jones or Guss Hiddink, or Wayne Bennett. He didn’t care what anyone thought of his tactics, he just got on with it.

      So for me allround best 5
      1)Wayne Bennett
      2)Jack Gibson
      3)Warren Ryan
      4)Phillip Ronald Gould his 91 panthers side was awsome vs green machine. And 90 he took a young panthers side and origin of course.
      5)Bob Fulton

      • October 1st 2013 @ 4:27am
        Johnno said | October 1st 2013 @ 4:27am | ! Report

        1980’s grand final king i meant warren ryan, not 89. He made 6 in 10 years.

        • Roar Guru

          October 1st 2013 @ 10:21am
 said | October 1st 2013 @ 10:21am | ! Report

          So u dont rate Craig Bellamy?

          • October 2nd 2013 @ 6:32am
            Jay C said | October 2nd 2013 @ 6:32am | ! Report

            Not in that Echelon. Not yet anyway.

          • October 2nd 2013 @ 10:47pm
            Knight Vision said | October 2nd 2013 @ 10:47pm | ! Report

            Bellamy has won 1 GF , coached the NSW sides to 0 series wins. how can he be rated alongside greatness ?

      • Roar Guru

        October 1st 2013 @ 9:53am said | October 1st 2013 @ 9:53am | ! Report

        Peter Tunks was coached by Gibson and Ryan and told me that Ryan is the best he has been coached by easily.

    • October 1st 2013 @ 4:49am
      John said | October 1st 2013 @ 4:49am | ! Report

      I remember Ryan in the 1980s at the Doggies having a Kangaroo back line and always complaining he needed more pace.

      He also “pioneered” the umbrella defense that shut that Eels team down – on occasion.

      If Gillespie doesn’t lose a finger the week of the grand final he probably wins the title in 1986 as well.

      • Roar Guru

        October 1st 2013 @ 9:55am said | October 1st 2013 @ 9:55am | ! Report

        Ryan didnt suck up to the head office which may explain why he never got the cushy gigs

    • October 1st 2013 @ 6:49am
      nayfo said | October 1st 2013 @ 6:49am | ! Report

      Thanks for the great read.

    • October 1st 2013 @ 8:37am
      The eye said | October 1st 2013 @ 8:37am | ! Report

      As good as a coach as he may be..comparing talent available and to a lesser extent problems in the front office and within the roster,Toovey has done a phenomenal job..Robbo takes this side back to the last 4 stage again next year,he takes the fluke factor out..don’t think you can say 13th,last year says it all considering the huge difference in personnel in both years..great job for sure,but
      Toovey for me.

      • Roar Guru

        October 1st 2013 @ 9:57am said | October 1st 2013 @ 9:57am | ! Report

        The Eye
        Toovey has been wonderful no doubt. My mail was always that Tooves had much better communication skills with his players than what Hasler had.
        The difference between Tooves and Robbo is defence. Robbo had re-written the book when it comes to defence and he had done it with guys that are not noted defenders,.

    • Roar Guru

      October 1st 2013 @ 9:10am
      mastermind5991 said | October 1st 2013 @ 9:10am | ! Report

      The question will be, whether the Roosters win or lose this year’s Grand Final, whether Robbo can keep the Roosters in premiership contention, as some other coaches (such as the Bulldogs’ Kevin Moore, for example) couldn’t after their first years.

      To prove the point, Kevin Moore in his first year at the Bulldogs took his team to within an interchange infringement and/or a controversial no try decision of the minor premiership, and then to within one game of the Grand Final in 2009. His next two years saw the Bulldogs miss the finals, and he was moved on in favour of Des Hasler.

      Ivan Henjak, in his first year coaching the Broncos, led the team to a victory over the minor premiers, the Dragons, in the finals, eventually falling one game short of the Grand Final. The Broncos missed the finals the following year and Henjak was sacked.

      It’ll be interesting to see whether Trent Robinson can keep the Roosters up there in the years to come.

      • Roar Guru

        October 1st 2013 @ 10:01am said | October 1st 2013 @ 10:01am | ! Report

        Excellent point.
        SBW will have a big say in how the Roosters go next year he goes then that will be a big challenge.
        Whatever happens any team Robbo coaches will have tight defence. When Bellamy lost GI he was able to cope.

    • October 1st 2013 @ 9:24am
      Redback said | October 1st 2013 @ 9:24am | ! Report

      It helps when you have a premiership winning team over the cap.

      • Roar Guru

        October 1st 2013 @ 10:03am said | October 1st 2013 @ 10:03am | ! Report

        Dumb comment mate. Give credit where credit is due.
        Have u seen the lists at the Sharks, Bulldogs, Cowboys and Souths?

      • October 2nd 2013 @ 10:52pm
        Knight Vision said | October 2nd 2013 @ 10:52pm | ! Report

        I have to agree. team of superstars. no one can tell me they’re paying the same amount as the bottom teams , unless SBW and a few others are playing out of pure kindness. They have the same guy there now that was at the Storm during the 2 contract years. Rothfield lobbied via his column to have the guy removed.Theres a rat in the chook pen this year , no doubt.

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