After two weeks of the NRL – Rookie head coaches Anthony Seibold and Dean Pay must be thinking what on earth have I signed up for?
Both have had lengthy apprenticeships as assistant coaches at other clubs – but nothing ever quite prepares for the role of being a head coach in the NRL.
I can remember my former mentor Warren Ryan saying to me before I accepted the head coaching job at Newcastle – that it was much easier to be the Deputy than it is was to be the Sheriff.
I also asked him for some advice before taking on the job – and he suggested I should “rent” because the tenure of head coaching was not always secure.
A quick review of the behaviour of several of our more successful and experienced coaches after two weeks has revealed the following:
A post game spray by Brad Arthur after their Rd 1 loss to Penrith before they got hammered by Manly 54 – 0 at Brookvale Oval last Sunday.
Wayne Bennett – challenged his players after a disappointing Rd 1 loss to the Dragons – before claiming the Broncos had responded bravely to beat the Cowboys at Suncorp Stadium when he claimed his club had been unfairly criticised for their signing of Matt Lodge.
And Shane Flanagan who made several changes to his team after Rd 1 – left the sideline with minutes remaining (kicking stones) after his team gave up a 14 – 0 lead to get run down by the Dragons at home in their local derby.
Meanwhile, Ricky Stuart has kept his cool (at least publicly) and maintained a more positive outlook post match despite his team getting run down by the Titans and the Knights in the opening two weeks.
I doubt he will be as positive if his team gets beaten by the high flying Warriors at home this week?
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What can we expect in Rd 3 – as several unbeaten teams (including the Tigers and the Knights) will face their biggest challenges of the season - as they take on Brisbane and the Roosters respectively.
Benji Marshall is the talk of Tiger town after his successful return to the fold – as he faces his former club in Campbelltown on Friday night.
And the Broncos welcome their high profile signing Jack Bird who will add some versatility to their bench and some strike power when he finds his feet.
Mitchell Pearce, who is thriving in his new found environment at the Knights, will be keen to perform well against his old club on Sunday evening.
Both clubs have tried to play down the hype publicly but there will be a huge motivation for both group’s of players and their coaches (behind closed doors) as they look to improve their standing in the competition.
Tonight’s 2017 Grand Final rematch is another example of some poor scheduling by the NRL – as this game should be the match of the round on Friday night or Sunday afternoon – to give the fans their best chance to fill AAMI Stadium.
Despite this – it should provide a good indicator of their Premiership credentials – as both are coming off unexpected losses and we should expect a major attitude adjustment in a very tight contest.
I am tipping a number teams may have their first win of the season – including the Eels who play their first game of the year at home in a double header at ANZ Stadium against the Sharks with Jarryd Hayne being tipped to spend some time at fullback. There is nothing like the embarrassment of a big hiding and the heavy criticism by the fans and media to inspire a much better performance.
Storm, Bulldogs, Broncos, Raiders, Sea Eagles, Eels, Dragons, Roosters