Potter deserves his shot with Tigers cubs
For one fleeting moment, Wests Tigers coach Mick Potter allowed himself to peer past the swirling rumours and speculation about his personal future and immerse himself in the club's one.
And what he saw, particularly after a nine-minute window in the second half of a 46-18 rout of competition heavyweights the Bulldogs, was good.
First there was the deft grubber prodigious fullback Mitchell Moses put for back-to-the-future name Curtis Sironen in the 50th minute.
Then there was the jaw-dropping one-handed putdown of Bradford protege Keith Lulia in the 55th, before – and this was the best of them – rising five-eighth Blake Austin offloaded for a Moses line break in the 59th, after which he linked with young linchpin Luke Brooks for a sizzling try that had the suffering faithful dreaming of a bold new era.
Just like that, before anyone could say 'sign-him-up-for-life', man-of-the-match Moses and this new batch of Tigers had turned a 20-18 lead into a 34-18 rout.
"He's a good, young man. I don't think you've seen the best of him," Potter began to say post-game.
And the second-year coach knows there's a fair bit more to come.
"He's a player with a lot of potential. I know that word gets thrown around a lot. I think he showed a bit of that today. I'm really happy that he's in our team and that he's going to be here for a while," he said.
The ironic part of that, of course, is that Potter is unsure whether he himself will be. As we all know by now, an unflattering review by the second most experienced coach in rugby league history in Brian Smith has Potter clinging onto to his job for dear life.
In a round where the NRL community gathered in support for a kid whose future footy career was cruelly taken away from him, we got a glimpse of what the Tigers' medium-term prospects look like. But the reality is Potter mightn't get the chance to shape it. Not even after handing the Bulldogs their heaviest defeat of the year.
"That's irrelevant and for me, I just need to get on with what I do and try not to be distracted by outside influences," he said.
Potter, 50, said he wasn't going to allow questions over his abilities as a coach dictate how he would do his job.
"I'm not going to change for anyone outside just with pressure. I won't be compromising what I do with the team," he said.
"The team respond really well to everything that we do. I couldn't be any more happier with them today. At training they've done exactly what they need to do. We just got a great result today."
All year we've been patiently waiting for golden nuggets of what this school of promising talents can do on a football field. Perhaps we should be just as gracious with the bloke, who's barely gone two weeks with a healthy roster since arriving 20 months ago, that's currently in charge of them.
Keith Lulia, scorer of four tries on Sunday, put it best: "I think he's definitely done well, compared to last year. They didn't have a good year last year and this year we started off the year really well. We had a bad shot there but after today's win, he deserves it."