Wayne Bennett has had a tough first year as coach of the Newcastle Knights.
IS there another job on the planet that could provide the roller-coaster existence of an NRL coach?
Already this year we have had surprise success stories, others have failed badly while two have already been sacked - and we still have two rounds remaining.
NRL coaches get paid well - and they deserve it. The pressure on coaches must be suffocating at times.
Coaching is a result based profession, and while there is so much more to the job and a raft of factors that ultimately decide a coaches fate, winning is what they’re all judged on.
With so many clubs having appointed new coaches for 2012, some high profile, some promoted within, and a few rookies, our NRL coaches were always going to be right in the thick of the news. Here’s a quick snapshot of how they’ve acquitted themselves.
Inherited a team that finished out of the semis last year, with no established halves. The coaching play of the year has been his original solution to that problem… by way of his forwards. It’s become obvious that he has a great ability to make his players believe in the plan and themselves. Dessy will be the Dally M coach of the year.
Brian Smith’s longevity in the game is a testament to his ability as a coach, however this would have to be one of his most disappointing seasons. The Roosters do have a young squad but that cant be the excuse for a number of their performances. Discipline has been poor and despite the youngsters, they still have enough quality in the squad to be sitting much higher on the table. One and a half wins off the bottom, not good enough.
It is never easy to step-in and coach a premiership-winning side.
He knew his side had the ability - he just had to keep them ticking over. And he has. Toovey's side is headed toward a top four finish - despite having to overcome a heap of injuries and suspensions. He has them peaking at the right time.
Punted by the Eels a few weeks ago after two years of failure. I am sure he has learnt a lot about himself in that time and what it takes to coach in the NRL. Parramatta bought some talented players this year - headed by Chris Sandow - but they simply haven't fired. Kearney is living proof how tough coaching in the NRL can be.
Outstanding. Cronulla has been the surprise packet this year. They have been in the top four for most of the year. His off-season recruitment was spot-on and has been able to keep his players focused for the bulk of the season. He has established himself as a first class coach.
Always going to be difficult following Wayne Bennett. Even more so losing some key players and he also had an ageing roster, which has had him under pressure throughout the season. Needed to change the way they attacked but just couldn’t get the mix right.
Big move into the NRL for a rookie coach. But what a success story. Coaching Souths has been a tough gig in recent time and has claimed plenty of scalps. The club often had the talent, but couldn't quite transfer that into results. Maguire has finally done that. He has brought structure and discipline to Redfern. Looks like he’ll be around for some time to come.
I think their biggest issue has been an inability to replace Robert Lui at halfback. It has proved to be a real headache for the Tigers coach.
Were tipped to be premiers by some bookmakers prior to the season getting underway and just haven’t come close to meeting expectations.
Cleary has made some tough decisions at the Panthers this year and whether you agree with them or not you do have to admire his conviction. He obviously has a clear vision for the club, but might come under closer scrutiny with a stronger roster next year.
Everyone thought Bennett was going to work miracles at Newcastle. It hasn't worked out that way. No doubt this has been the toughest period of his coaching career although the Knights have come good during the second half of the season. Bennett must have felt the pressure after his side lost five-straight midway through the year.
Looks as though they will fall short of the finals again. With the roster at the Titans disposal they should be in the semi-finals. They have plenty of State of Origin forwards and Scott Prince's form over the back-end of the season has been very good. They have played some good footy in recent weeks - but all too late.
I think Griffin is starting to know about life after Darren Lockyer. Brisbane are constantly finding out just how good it was having Lockyer in their team.
The Broncos have fallen away badly in recent weeks, losing five straight matches. There will be hell to pay if they crash out and miss the finals. Lockyer controlled their game plan - and that's where they are now failing.
It is remarkable to think Canberra are still in the hunt for the top eight. At times they look the worst team in the game. Other times they look among the best.
I don't know how Furner handles this inconsistency week to week. It must drive him crazy. Losing Terry Campese hurt them badly and he has coached all year under plenty of scrutiny.
What a coach. Continually seems to recyle players you think have had their best at rival clubs. Yes, he has the big three but Bellamy has that knack of getting the best out of fringe first graders. For the past eight years, Bellamy, Cronk, Slater and Smith have formed a deadly combination.
The Warriors have fallen away horribly in recent weeks, leading to McClennan's demise. Sad, but the right decision. Something was certainly wrong at the Warriors. After reaching last year's grand final, they have been the NRL's most disappointing team. They should be top four consistently.
He has two genius players there in Thurston and Bowen. That certainly helps.
Has done a good job building a squad over recent years that just might challenge for the title. All the ingredients are there the coach just needs to instill a steely resolve in their defence. Henry was under pressure just a few years ago but has this Cowboys side ticking along nicely going into the finals.