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Des Hasler coaching the Bulldogs.

Coaching in the NRL is a cut-throat business as we've seen this week with the sacking of Anthony Griffin but there are always plenty of candidates ready to put up their hands up and have a crack.

Which brings me to the three candidates waiting in the wings who I believe should be the next in line.

I expect Des Hasler to be in high demand when he decides to coach again. Des took Manly to two premierships and a grand final and the Bulldogs to two grand finals in a 387-game coaching career at a win rate of 58.1%.

Those numbers don't lie and I reckon for well over a decade Hasler was regarded as one of the three best coaches in the game alongside Craig Bellamy and Wayne Bennett

One thing I know about Des is he was ahead of the curve when it came to sports science, technology and the use of statistics. He left no stone unturned to get an edge over his opponents.

I wasn't a fan of the way Canterbury played in the final three years of his tenure but even Wayne had some off years results wise at Newcastle.

What I did admire was the way Des got that Manly side to play. They were tough, aggressive and moved the ball beautifully. That was a team with some massive personalities in it like the Stewart brothers, Anthony Watmough and Steve Matai. To be a coach at Manly is a tough gig but Des was able to manage all those big names and get the best out of them.

I know he's copped some criticism for his roster management and back-ended deals but when a coach has left a club it is always easy to blame him. I'm sure there is more to that story.

Des is intense and he has that aura about him. I could see him at a club that needs taking to the next level and there are a few of them at the moment. Parramatta might be a good one for him. They have the players and he could make them click. I'm not too sure about Penrith. Des and Gus [Gould] together might not be a match made in heaven.

When Wayne Bennett finishes his time at the Broncos, Kevin Walters is the man to take his place.

At the Broncos you need a coach that understands the psyche of the club and Kevin won five premierships there and he gets it.  

Wayne has to finish at some stage and you need someone as coach who has the same values we built at the club and Kevvie is one of them. When the Broncos have gone away from that in the past it just didn't work.

Maroons coach Kevin Walters.
Maroons coach Kevin Walters.

While Kevin is the Queensland coach, I know he wants to coach the Broncos.

I've seen it written that Kevin is too emotional to handle the pressure of week-to-week NRL coaching but that is rubbish. The scrutiny on an Origin coach is under is immense, particularly in Queensland after what Mal Meninga achieved, and Kevin has done a great job. The way he guided the side to a comeback series win last year was one of the great achievements by a coach in Origin history.

That passion and emotion that he does display can be a benefit to a team. The players know he would do anything for the Broncos and they would play for him.

Ever since Kevin had retired as a player he has been working towards his goal of being an NRL head coach. He's done a virtual 20-year apprenticeship and he is ready.

The other candidate, or I should say candidates, to take the next step are Ben and Shane Walker. To have co-coaches at the helm of an NRL club will work in their case because they have made it work at Ipswich for the last eight years. They complement each other.

We've all seen the innovation the Walkers have brought to the table. Even the Broncos are using the short drop-out now, but not as well as Ipswich unfortunately. What I have admired about the Walkers for a long time is the way they develop their players' skill levels. 

I believe the Walkers can be a game changer for the NRL.

Ben and Shane Walker coaching Ipswich in 2015.
Ben and Shane Walker coaching Ipswich in 2015. ©Scott Davis/SMP Images/QRL Media

I reckon there would be a raft of players in the Telstra Premiership who would jump at the chance to play under them because of their energy, positive mindset and innovation.

Gold Coast would be an ideal fit for them. The Titans have the talent in their roster but the Walkers would get the most of that talent in ways we haven't seen yet.

I'd like to see what Ben would do with Ash Taylor for a start. A side coached by the Walkers would bring the fans through the turnstiles as well and I reckon it would be to watch a team that wins more games than it loses. 


The views in this article do not necessarily express the opinions of the NRL, ARLC, NRL clubs or state associations.

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