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The Roar


Are we running out of coaches?

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Roar Guru
13th April, 2019

Legacy and an ability to lead a group of people – be it in a sports team, political party or any other group – must be one of the most challenging undertakings for anyone.

My coaching resume is limited to working with some young cricketers on their bowling action and coaching a U14 team in basketball, so I don’t come close to being an expert. However, in my opinion, the NRL has a shortage of coaching talent.

To me there are three coaches who are clearly the best in the league and it can be argued who is number one, two or three.

They would be Craig Bellamy, Wayne Bennett and Trent Robinson.

To me these three are clearly the best in the game at the moment. Now other clubs are employing coaches who are starting their careers or have past successes to fall back on, these names include Des Hasler, Michael Maguire and Anthony Seibold.

These names either have premierships to their name already, or in Seibold’s case they are in just their second season and already won a Dally M coaching award.

Having watched a number of different teams this year it seems to me that plenty have no idea what they’re doing in attack or defence. Teams like the Titans, Warriors, Knights and at times Manly and the Bulldogs have shown that they have no idea what they are doing on offence or defence.

To me this comes down to coaching. These teams are failing to put the work in that is needed to win on the weekend. They are not prepared to put their best display in.

Perhaps the two biggest concerns for coaching talent in the NRL is the regard that Nathan Brown and Ivan Cleary are held in.

Newcastle coach Nathan Brown

Knights coach Nathan Brown during the Newcastle Knights training session at Balance Field in Mayfield, Newcastle, Thursday, August 23, 2018. (AAP Image/Darren Pateman)

I have at times heard Cleary mentioned in the same breath as Bennett and above Robinson. There to me is no evidence to support this. I would question his ability as a coach.

His last few years in charge of two different teams, they have had no idea how to attack. They just try to scrap for the 80.

It worked early last year for the Tigers beating the Storm and the Roosters but this style doesn’t win GFs. While the Tigers were perhaps low on talent last year, the same excuse does not exist this year for Cleary.

He has a number of classy rep players are at his disposal but with all this talent they have been at times awful and unwatchable. James Maloney and Nathan Cleary in particular seem like they only meet once a week on game day. This comes from a team that employs a man who is well regarded and lauded as a NRL coach.

Nathan Brown has had a tough, roller-coaster of a career. Taking over the Dragons, failing in going to the UK and now back in the NRL coaching the Knights, he has had a tough time.

He has a new team that on paper should make them highly competitive but they have struggled and the likes of Kalyn Ponga and Mitch Pearce are not playing as well as they were last year.

The Knights strike me as a team that can only attack going left. Jesse Ramien – an outstanding prospect – has turned into a hit-up specialist as a result.


Also on Brown he has been given a lot of credit for rebuilding the club with a much stronger roster, but I want to ask who has he developed or improved? Perhaps Mitch Barrnet? The rest of the players were bought at their peaks such as Dave Klemmer, Aidan Guerra, Pearce, Tim Glasby or any of their younger players.

Coaches such as Garth Brennan, Stephen Kearney, Paul McGregor and Brad Arthur along with those I have studied are to me just not up to the job of winning a premiership and will one day be sacked but who replaces them?

Perhaps clubs should look at the English Super league? Or maybe someone like Craig Fitzgibon or Jason Demitriou are ready to go? The NRL is facing a coaching shortage and clubs like the Storm, Rabbits and the Roosters are ready to take advantage.