Hunt: Coaches aren't only ones to blame
One coach has already been sacked and the vultures are circling another but Broncos half Ben Hunt insists the blame for poor performances can't solely rest with the men with the clipboard.
Jason Taylor was sacked from the Wests Tigers after just three rounds and premiership-winning coach Des Hasler is under pressure at the Bulldogs despite a resume that places him among the elite of modern coaches.
Now in his ninth season in the NRL Hunt has worked under three coaches and been witness to some shock sackings of his own but writes in this week's issue of Big League that the intensity of the pressure on coaches now has reached ridiculous levels.
Ivan Henjak gave Hunt his NRL debut at the Broncos back in 2009 yet just three weeks before the start of the 2011 season was dumped for his assistant coach Anthony Griffin.
Griffin was subsequently sacked in similarly sensational circumstances when Wayne Bennett returned to take charge of the Broncos in 2015 after resigning from the Knights midway through the 2014 season.
It's a cut-throat business but Hunt is adamant the coaches can't be held solely responsible as the losses mount up.
"It's ridiculous how much pressure coaches are under in modern-day rugby league. A couple of losses and they're straight under the pump. Everything is their fault," Hunt says in the Round 5 issue of Big League.
"The notion everything is the coach's fault is wrong. These blokes are obviously trying to do the best they can for their clubs or they wouldn't be coaching.
"Players should assume just as much of the blame, but unfortunately that rarely happens.
"As a player it's tough knowing your coach is giving the job his all and trying to get the best out of his team, then you have a couple of losses and he's the one under pressure, not the players.
"It's such a harsh job to be in, but as a coach now they have to expect it because that's the business that we're in."
Broncos players are on high alert this week with regards to the bounce-back factor of their opponents on Thursday night with the Bulldogs desperate to make amends for their 36-0 thumping at the hands of Manly last Saturday.
It's a proud club led by a proud coach and Hunt is mystified that Hasler's tenure at Canterbury is being brought into question.
"I feel for everyone at the Wests Tigers and the Bulldogs at the moment," Hunt says.
"Obviously I don't know what goes on behind the scenes, but I believe all the speculation regarding their respective coaches has been a little much.
"Jason Taylor was three games into a new season. As I said, I'm unclear of what went on behind the scenes, but that seems pretty early in the year for a coach to be getting the sack.
"Meanwhile, you only have to look at what Des Hasler has achieved – he's won multiple premierships and been regarded as one of the best coaches in the game for a long time.
"I can't believe he's also under so much pressure."
The Round 5 issue of Big League looks at the longest contracts in the game's history – and how they ended, celebrates Simon Mannering's Warriors milestone and marks Chris Heighington's 300th NRL game with a special commemorative poster.
On sale now from newsagents, supermarkets and at the ground. Digital version also available through www.zinio.com, Apple iTunes and Google Play.