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Trent Robinson is one of the great coaches of the modern era

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Expert
22nd April, 2019
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Coaching the Roosters is not an easy gig. They are a club that measures success in terms of premierships and grand finals.

Not making the top eight is unacceptable to the administration and at the very least will have the coaching position under review.

In his relatively short career with the clipboard, Trent Robinson has lifted the Provan-Summons Trophy twice and led the club to three minor premierships since he took over in 2013. He has plenty to tell the grandchildren already.

What comes with success at Easts is the inevitable ‘salary sombrero’ discussion. The perceived privilege that Nick Politis and his Roosters receive above and beyond any other club in the NRL.

In the absence of any hard evidence to the contrary I take the position that the Roosters are an exceptionally well-managed rugby league club with a damn good head coach.

Sydney Roosters coach Trent Robinson arrives to address media during a press conference in Sydney

Trent Robinson deserves credit, even considering the Roosters’ resources.

Easts have a number of wealthy and well-connected individuals associated with the organisation. It goes with the territory.

Figures released by the NRL at the end of last year detailing third-party agreements not included in the salary cap and paid to players under private deals with sponsors, show the Roosters are at the bottom end with $200,000.

Compare this with over a million at Melbourne and $800,000 at Brisbane and they are not even close to the top.

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The Tricolours are successful due to shrewd recruitment, a superior development system and a coach that will eventually be hailed as one of the best ever.

In the Good Friday golden point victory over fellow title contenders the Melbourne Storm at AAMI Park, Robinson was forced to field two debutants in Sam Verrills and Josh Curran while Sitili Tupouniua was playing his second NRL game.

Of the 17 players that took the field in Melbourne, only three – Cooper Cronk, Angus Crichton and James Tedesco – could be considered as players that were established stars at other clubs before being recruited by the Roosters.

While Cronk’s career is winding down, Tedesco has found a new level of consistency under Robinson. It is early days for Crichton to determine the effect his transfer from Souths will have. Luke Keary was an established first grader at Souths but on the outer when he left. He has become a topline half at his new club.

Man of the match against the Storm, Latrell Mitchell, who kicked the magnificent victory-sealing field goal, was a player of immense potential going back to when he starred in the 2014 SG Ball grand final for the Roosters as a 16-year-old.

At 21 he is establishing himself as one of the best in the game. Not every stand out junior becomes an NRL star like Latrell.

Robinson is impressive in the way he handles post-match press conferences. A deep thinker who was known to ask lots of questions of his mentors when he was playing, he appears to be free of the baggage and agenda that consumes some coaches at the NRL level.

Latrell Mitchell

Latrell Mitchell of the Roosters (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

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His responses to media questions are thoughtful, often revealing the thinking behind his tactical decisions and providing an honest appraisal of how the team is travelling.

The recount of how he used an incapacitated Cooper Cronk as a decoy on the other side of the ruck to Clive Churchill medalist Luke Keary in the 2018 grand final was insightful and entertaining.

Taking the Roosters to Paris to prepare for their World Club Challenge encounter, a region where he played and coached prior to taking up the reigns at Easts, to help promote the code in France, shows that he considers the issues beyond what is in front of his nose.

Robinson was vocal recently when a threat to WNRL funding by the participating clubs loomed saying that women are “the future” of rugby league.

Melbourne Storm coach Craig Bellamy described the Roosters as the benchmark and a fair footy team after the Good Friday fixture.

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Sitting on ten points after six rounds with three other teams, the Roosters have had only one blip – going down to arch-rivals South Sydney in Round 1.

You have to go back to Brisbane in the 90s to find a team that has won back-to-back premierships. Coaches describe the difficulty finding the hunger in the season following a premiership win. Opponents lift when they meet the premiers.

With a 64 per cent win record in NRL games, only Craig Bellamy (68 per cent) has a better record out of the sixteen head coaches currently plying their trade in the NRL.

Robinson added to his resume after the grand final by taking out the World Club Challenge by defeating Wigan on their home turf last February.

I would not be surprised to see Trent Robinson with a trifecta of NRL premierships to his name come early October.