Coaching carousel still going
THE NRL coaching merry-go-round stopped briefly on Friday to collect a virtual unknown named Trent Robinson, but its journey is far from finished.
And three of the veteran coaches of rugby league may be among those suffering insomnia at the moment.
Sacked by the Roosters, Brian Smith is unemployed after 28 years and his future is clouded. A post at the Warriors supposedly beckons, but at best that is likely to be a short-term appointment.
Tim Sheens, heading for 700 NRL games, seems to be treading water after yet another poor season at the Tigers. He has a year to run on a contract believed to be worth $½ a million a season, but his name has also been linked to the Warriors.
But the biggest name who might be looking for new digs is Wayne Bennett, the most successful coach of the modern era with eight NRL premierships since 1987. He is also the most expensive - his contract at the Knights said to be worth $6 million over four years.
But with the first of those four years out of the way and the coach presumably paid, seeds of doubt must surely have been sown over the security of future pay cheques if recent media reports concerning the Nathan Tinkler empire are correct. If Tinkler is not paying the good folk of Beaudesert for goods and services rendered to his horse stud, how long before payments to his football teams will stop?
And while Tinkler may have paid off a $5 million Knights debt and agreed to a $20 million bank guarantee to assure solvency of the club should his business conglomerate go belly up, current contracts with the Newcastle players and their coach must surely be doubtful. Bennett would then become a free agent and the undoubted Rolls Royce of coaches would again be up for grabs.
With the Roosters having appointed Robinson, the only club without a coach for 2013 is the Warriors, and no doubt they would move heaven and earth to secure Bennett - and pay him handsomely. Timing, however, is against both parties.
But while some old hands might be pondering just what the future holds, full marks to the Roosters for giving a rookie a crack at the big time. It is apparent clubs are finally realising that playing 200 NRL games is not a pre-requisite for coaching success.
The achievements of Neil Henry, Anthony Griffin and Michael McGuire at the top level has obviously convinced Roosters hierarchy that someone who made just four NRL appearances is the man to take their highly-talented squad to the next level. For the sake of all rookie coaches, hopefully Robinson has success.