The Kid is now the coach, with Billy Slater confirmed as Queensland’s new State of Origin coach.
Paul Green has gone, Wayne Bennett has said he’s unavailable, Mal Meninga is coaching the national side. Kevin Walters is busy.
There’s not a lot of love for Neil Henry, Ben and Shane Walker are 5000-1 outsiders (ditto Anthony Seibold, and Anthony Griffin). Cameron Smith has said no, who’s left?
Everyone seem to be talking about Billy Slater heading a ‘dream team’ of Slater, Smith and Johnathan Thurston.
It could be great. None have any coaching experience, so we won’t know until we try, but their footy intellect and experience can’t be questioned.
I’m just wondering about one other name that just doesn’t get mentioned for some reason.
I think there are three parts to being a coach. Some coaches have all three traits, some clearly favour one
over the other two:
1. Super intense old-school slave drivers (Ricky Stuart, Craig Bellamy)
2. Father figures who players will bleed for, because they the love him (Arthur Beetson, Wayne Bennett, Jack Gibson, Phil Gould, Mal Meninga)
3. Strategists and professionals. Often times these blokes weren’t superstar players, but milked their own playing ability as much as they could, then bring that professional approach to the team they are coaching. Think Wayne Bennett, Phil Gould, Trent Robinson, Craig Bellamy.
What does Queensland need right now? I don’t think we need a slave driver. We only have a week of preparation, and if the “Queensland play with passion” thing is true (it is), we’ve no need for a coach to be cracking the whip.
We need someone they’ll love, someone who understands the game inside and out, and will leave no stone unturned to get everything right (selection, training, strategy, execution). I’ve no doubt the ‘dream team’ are great candidates for the role, but there’s another name no-one is mentioning, and I can’t work out why.
Cooper Cronk started his career at Melbourne as a bench utility. It took him quite a while to establish himself as the Melbourne halfback. If you think of player with a magical step, a subtle pass, a pinpoint kicking game, a tackle that will fold a player in half, 20-metre cut-out passes that fly like an arrow, blinding speed and acceleration; Cooper won’t be the first player who comes to mind, for any of them.
Cooper had a really good skill set, but not a great one, and still:
•Won 5 Dally M half back of the year awards
•Won the 2012 Clive Churchill medal.
•Won 2 Dally M player of the year awards
•Won the 2016 golden boot
•Won 4 premierships with the Storm (two were, of course, stripped)
•Won two premierships with the Roosters, where he was brought in by Robinson as the ‘missing piece in the puzzle’.
In his second Roosters premiership, his presence was considered so valuable, he started the match with a busted arm, only made a tackle when he absolutely had to, and hardly touched the ball. The team carried him in the biggest game of the year, purely for his game management. On that day, he was Mike Brierley.
Cooper has been coached by Bellamy, Robinson, Bennett, and Meninga. I can’t think of a more professional footballer, nor a better game manager or strategist. Looking at the three types of coaches listed above, Cooper beats Slater on strategy and professionalism, but might lose a bit in terms of being a loveable father figure.
My question is, given all this, why isn’t him name in the coaching conversation? I know he works at Fox, however the ‘dream team’ all work at Nine. Maybe the answer is Cooper doesn’t want the gig? I’ve never heard him asked.
I’m just making the point that Cooper is an excellent candidate for the job, and should really be considered.
Either way, whatever they do, go Queensland.