Coach's Box: Moore's sacrifice for the Bulldogs

I really feel for now former Bulldogs head coach Kevin Moore, who on Thursday became the second of two very experienced coaches to stand down from their positions in the past month. The other being former Panthers head coach Matt Elliott, who stood down last month after weeks of media speculation with their teams perceived to be under-performing.

Kevin Moore has been involved with the Bulldogs for about 40 years, starting out as a ballboy, and his family has an incredible history and long association with the club.

He loved that club and he wouldn’t have wanted to leave. His decision to walk away is not an admission that he thinks he couldn’t do the job. He has made a tremendous self-sacrifice. No doubt he loves the club so much that he wouldn’t do anything to harm it. He probably thinks he will make it better by leaving. 

Kevin was named Dally M Coach of the Year in 2009. And coincidentally, Roosters coach Brian Smith, who has also been under fire recently from the media because Sydney are languishing in the bottom half of the table after making the Grand Final last year, was the 2010 Dally M Coach of the Year.

I can’t see how 12-18 months later they become not good coaches. If they were good enough to get the awards then, they would have only improved in that time. Generally as a coach you improve … you research, do study tours, you become more experienced.

Coaches know their positions these days are results-driven. They look at the table and they want to be up the top of the ladder. But on any given weekend everyone can’t win. There has to be a winner and a loser. The players and coaches and the inner sanctum are better prepared for that than the outside people who just expect the team to win every time.

What a lot of people don’t take into consideration when judging a team or coach’s performance is the luck factor. Injuries play a massive role. If you were to go back over the past 10 years and look at the teams who won the competition, you would find the team with the least injuries and that used the least number of players generally wins the comp. It’s been the same for Queensland in Origin in recent years … very few injuries. 

You also have luck with the draw on a week to week basis –  when you have byes, who you play at what time during the rep season. It can make or break a season.

I was very interested to hear Roosters prop Jason Ryles’s comments in the media after they won just their fifth game at the weekend and he said something along the lines of: “You always blame Smithy but surely we are the ones who should be more accountable for the game than the coach”.

Ryles has been around for a while. What he has said and done is exactly what a coach needs when he is being hounded by the media like Kevin Moore, Matt Elliott and Brian Smith have been. The club and the coach need other senior players to support what Jason Ryles has said.

The bottom line is that these days coaching is 24-7; especially when your team is not performing. It doesn’t stop you sleeping but in your waking time you do think about things. Ask anyone in the world, “Do you like pressure?” and the answer is no. “Do you know it’s going to come?” Yes.

As a coach or player you can take out insurance on it. By that I mean you can guarantee you will be criticised. You just have to be prepared for how you will react. Moore, Elliott and Smith have handled themselves very well in that regard.

It is important to keep a level head, say what you think and believe, and tell the truth. Dragons coach Wayne Bennett is one of the best at it. While he has had enormous success he has also had his moments, like when the Broncos lost nine matches in a row. He handled the media well and his players stayed solid. If the players believe in the coach they will play for him and they will stand up for him. That helps.

At the end of the day you have to believe in what you are doing as a coach. I often go back to one of Wayne Bennett’s comments: “If you listen to the people on the hill you will end up sitting next to them”.