It's difficult being a coach. I wouldn’t want to do it. With the closeness of the competition these days, you only have to lose a few games on the trot and your head’s on the chopping block. Every club expects their team to win; it’s a cut-throat industry.
Already this season we have seen two coaches moved on early because the team wasn’t achieving the results expected of them. It’s always hard to comment as to whether it’s a fair decision or not, as it’s up to the club’s discretion. But I think clubs do it because if they feel they need to go in a new direction, they probably want to do it ASAP to benefit them the following year.
For players though, it can be a hard transition. It’s happened to me once in my career at the Roosters, when Chris Anderson didn’t see out the season in 2007. It’s hard for players because you work towards a structure that the coach puts in place and then he leaves and the new guy comes along and completely overhauls everything. It’s hard to really gain any momentum through the season because you haven’t had a full pre-season.
I think a big part of being a successful coach is being a good people manager. You can’t get along with every player, but I think that’s the mark of being a good coach; is to keep the group happy and manage each individual differently because you have different personalities, different traits.
When a coach is moved on mid-season it’s often said he’s “lost the dressing room”. I think that’s just a term that is used, it doesn’t mean that is what has happened. There’s always speculation through the media and there’s always rumours and innuendo about it, but often the players don’t get a sense from the club. You get the word that it’s business as usual until you’re told otherwise, I suppose.
It’s likely we’ll see a slight lift in form from the Dragons now that Paul McGregor has taken over. Teams sometimes do this once a new coach comes in. Some of that definitely has to do with a change in the approach to the game, but it can also be because you, as a player, could be on the chopping block yourself. A new coach comes in and he’s got new ideas and new plans for players so I think you want to impress the new coach. It should be like that every week! But that’s the way it is.
This week’s issue of Big League is on sale now in newsagents and at games. Still only $5!