I must admit, Neil Henry wasn’t on my list of coaches who were any danger of being sacked this season. I had the Titans in my top eight to start the year, especially considering how well they did to scrap their way into the finals in 2016.
There are many different stories and theories on why he had to leave the Gold Coast, depending on what (or who) you want to believe. I don’t think the fallout is quite finished on this one, but it got me thinking about the coaches in recent history who have met untimely ends at their respective clubs and what needs to fall into place for a coach to stay anywhere for an extended period of time.
Obviously winning helps. No one has the power to undermine someone like Wayne Bennett or Craig Bellamy because results speak for themselves.
Keeping the playing group onside is also a key, and what a difficult task that would be. On a good day I manage a team of six and am lucky that for the most part, everyone gets along and has figured out a nice working pattern. Imagine having to manage 30 players, a coaching staff and juggle the administrative side of things and trying to get the best out of everybody – let alone bring it all together so well you win a premiership.
There’s also the persona and aura you want to create. It seems like a constant in recent times that coaches who have been let go are thought of primarily as “nice guys”. That’s not to say that long-term coaches aren’t nice – but rather they’ve decided to play a more understated or mysterious role in the public eye.
There are so many outside factors at work as a coach – players, fans, sponsors, boards – and I have the utmost respect for the brave people who decide to take the jobs on.
I’m sure that’s cold comfort for Neil Henry right now, but hopefully he’s not lost to the game forever.
And another thing… Plenty of fans have been questioning the credentials of the Panthers, even though the men from the mountains have won seven-straight games. The popular argument is they haven’t beaten good sides, or played the full 80 to get the W, but what does it matter? They’ve managed to flip a 2-7 start to the season to put themselves in a position for a successful finals run. You can read more about all the unwanted records they’ve knocked down on their way in this week’s Big League.
The Round 25 issue of Big Leagueis on sale now at newsagents, supermarkets, at the ground and via www.magsonline.com.au/big-league.