NRL coaches understand handling pressure may as well be written into your contract as a key performance indicator. There will be some NRL coaches who are in a good space mentally at the end of April. This is invariably attached to a win/loss ratio that is in the positive. Other coaches have built up credits with longevity and high performing results over many years.
Some first year coaches will know they have until their second year before judgement time but unfortunately there will be some coaches who are feeling the furnace like pressure that comes with NRL coaching. There is very little that can be done to alleviate pressure. Not reading papers, stress management techniques, physical training and/or relaxing away from the game are some methods mentioned by coaches but these are short term fixes.
There is only one way to alleviate pressure as an NRL coach – win a game of footy on the weekend.
Shane Flanagan will be rightly chuffed at the Cronulla Sharks position on the ladder. The Sharks took a gamble on recruiting Todd Carney and eight games into his contract the results are brilliant. His form warrants serious consideration if not certain selection in the NSW origin team.
The recruitment of seasoned players Jeff Robson, Bryce Gibbs, Andrew Fifita, Jon Green, Mark Taufua and Isaac De Gois have added class to a tough outfit. Carney has been the catalyst but all players have made positive contributions. Shane Flanagan’s reward – a new 2 year contract.
Steve Price is in his first year with the St George Illawarra Dragons. There are expectations that come with being the Dragons coach (especially after the success of previous coach Wayne Bennett). Steve Price would be aiming for a top 4 playoff position then a run at the premeirship. He would be in a great place right now given that the Brett Morris to fullback move is a winner, Daniel Vidot is improving every week and Mitch Rein is probably the best performed player in the team.
He would also be looking ahead (strategically at the draw) with anticipation over the origin period as hardly any of his players are in the selection frame for NSW origin. This is the Dragons time to cement a top 4 position.
David Furner will be bitterly disappointed with the Canberra Raiders current position. The Raiders started the year with a fully fit squad inclusive of Josh Dugan, Tom Learoyd-Lahrs, David Shillington and Terry Campese. Campese is gone for the year and Dugan has played three games out of eight, but the manner of their losses is disturbing. I was scathing of the defeat by the Cronulla Sharks in round 8. At home, they displayed little motivation, attitude or willingness to battle and it is these types or performances that prove to be ‘coach killers’.
Furner has had little respite from the pressure given he went into 2012 as favourite to be first sacked and he knows that he has to come out of the origin period with a few wins but even more importantly, some credible losses (if they don’t win). There is no escape to the pressure, David will work hard with the rest of his coaching staff and aim for a two match win streak just to show his team that it can be done.
The challenge with NRL coaching is to remain in the good place (mentally).
Craig Bellamy is the most successful (win ratio) coach of the current participants, is located in an AFL dominated town and has a tremendous resume but lose two or three in a row, bow out of the playoffs earlier than anticipated and pressure comes.
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