How safe is your club’s coach?
How safe is your club’s coach?

Danger zone: How safe is your NRL coach from the axe?

GARTH Brennan was the first NRL coach sacked this season, but will he be the last? As the finals countdown hots up, so does another unwanted race.

ANTHONY SEIBOLD (Broncos)

Contract: 2023

Safety rating: 6

This time last year, Seibold looked as though he had all the answers on his way to winning Dally M coach of the year in his rookie season. But he is fast learning about the pressure that goes with coaching the NRL's biggest club. Since 1991 the Broncos have only missed the finals twice. Seibold was handed a roster many believed could win the comp. Now they'll be lucky to make the eight. While it's not acceptable, the length of Seibold's contract makes him bulletproof - for now.

RICKY STUART (Raiders)

Contract: 2023

Safety rating: 10

Hasn't Ricky shut up his haters? Not many tipped the Raiders to be top-eight hopes, let alone top four, but right now they are as good a shot as any to go all the way. This has been a huge coaching performance. They are playing with tremendous belief and spirit, while the club's recruitment has been exceptional, with John Bateman and Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad among the season's best buys.

 

DEAN PAY (Bulldogs)

Contract: 2020

Safety rating: 5.5

Pay was handed a time bomb when he took over and I for one didn't think he'd last. But I'm really starting to admire the understated way he has gone about instilling a fighting spirit in one of the NRL's most modest rosters. Look at the way the Gold Coast are performing and compare it to the Bulldogs, who have knocked over Penrith and Newcastle in recent weeks. Pay has earned the right to see out his contract.

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John Morris is in his first year with Cronulla. Picture: Getty Images
John Morris is in his first year with Cronulla. Picture: Getty Images

JOHN MORRIS (Sharks)

Contract: 2021

Safety rating: 6.5

A young coach doing an impressive job in his first season. This Cronulla squad has some of the more difficult personalities to manage, and Morris has had to contend with serious injury setbacks. Yet with the finals near they produced their best win of the season against the Rabbitohs. If they finish top eight, anything is possible.

JUSTIN HOLBROOK (Titans)

Contract: 2021

Safety rating: 6

Everyone who knows Holbrook says he has the potential to be a very good NRL coach. But I seem to remember plenty of good judges saying pretty much the same thing about Garth Brennan before he took on the sinking ship that is the Titans. Brennan sealed his fate by allowing select individuals to have too much power and not handing out enough tough love. Holbrook won't want to fall into the same trap.

Des Hasler has done a remarkable job with Manly. Picture: AAP
Des Hasler has done a remarkable job with Manly. Picture: AAP

DES HASLER (Sea Eagles)

Contract: 2021

Safety rating: 10

One of the great coaching performances of recent years is not over yet. Hasler looked like he'd never get another coaching job after he was run out of Belmore. Now he's the favourite to win the Dally M coach of the year with basically the same squad that finished 15th last year. There was a time when Manly were the league's most hated club. Now you can't help but admire them.

CRAIG BELLAMY (Storm)

Contract: 2021

Safety rating: 10

Love the way Bellamy never makes excuses. Instead of focusing on who he hasn't got, he just works out a way to get the best out of what he has. No Cooper Cronk, no Billy Slater, no worries. In a career of amazing highlights this has the potential to be Bellamy's most outstanding achievement, given the fact many experts predicted this would be the year the Storm would struggle to stay in the eight.

Nathan Brown is feeling the heat. Picture: AAP
Nathan Brown is feeling the heat. Picture: AAP

NATHAN BROWN (Knights)

Contract: performance based

Safety rating: 4

Brown deserves huge credit for rebuilding this Newcastle roster. But when you sign a contract that is performance based you are expected to perform. If the Knights don't beat Parramatta on Saturday they may as well forget about the ­finals. And that's just not good enough for a team with a State of Origin fullback, an Origin halfback and three Origin middle forwards, as well as an overall strong roster. What Brown has on his side is a strong relationship with Newcastle chief Philip Gardner.

PAUL GREEN (Cowboys)

Contract: 2021

Safety rating: 5.5

Another disappointing year, yet what can't be understated is it was always going to be tough moving on from Johnathan Thurston. Missing out on Valentine Holmes and then losing Ben Barba made it even tougher. Two grand finals and a premiership in six seasons gives Green a bit more wiggle room. Still, recruitment decisions like losing Kalyn Ponga and Viliame Kikau need to be questioned.

BRAD ARTHUR (Eels)

Contract: 2021

Safety rating: 8

Another of this season's really good coaching performances for a team that finished with the wooden spoon last year. Parramatta's management was really trying to make Arthur sweat on a new deal early this year but the decision has been justified with Parra now sixth. Like Hasler has done at Manly, Arthur is getting the most out of a squad that doesn't have the overall star power of some clubs.

LISTEN! Brett Finch and Paul Kent are back in the studio with Matty Johns to dig out some fun memories for '70s Retro Round, analyse Kalyn Ponga's mega-deal and Kenty details his Tuesday feud with Ivan Cleary.

IVAN CLEARY (Panthers)

Contract: 2023

Safety rating: 7

Cleary's as safe as a bank, but it's Penrith management that really should be under pressure. It punted Anthony Griffin to bring back Cleary on a five-year deal, while also overlooking Wayne Bennett. Remember, this squad finished fifth last year. The best thing Cleary has going for him is that the Panthers simply can't afford to sack another coach. Have the league's fourth-worst attack despite two Origin halves.

It hasn’t been smooth sailing for Ivan Cleary. Picture: AAP
It hasn’t been smooth sailing for Ivan Cleary. Picture: AAP

WAYNE BENNETT (Rabbitohs)

Contract: 2021

Safety rating: 10

Like Bellamy, Bennett doesn't look for excuses, he just finds answers. How many coaches could have kept their team top-four bound after losing Greg Inglis and then having Sam Burgess basically play with a bung shoulder since round five? Instead of complaining, Bennett delivered some bargain buys in Ethan Lowe, James Roberts and Jaydn Su'A, all unwanted at their previous clubs.

PAUL MCGREGOR (Dragons)

Contract: 2021

Safety rating: 4.5

Under pressure from his own fans but the fact is McGregor's job is safe for now because he's signed a two-year extension. My concern is the two problems that brought the Dragons undone this year look like remaining next year, given Jack de Belin's suspension is unlikely to be resolved, while Gareth Widdop is returning to England, and that salary cap space has already gone to Corey Norman.

Trent Robinson has already won two grand finals with the Roosters. Picture: Getty Images
Trent Robinson has already won two grand finals with the Roosters. Picture: Getty Images

TRENT ROBINSON (Roosters)

Contract: 2022

Safety rating: 10

I asked Nick Politis earlier this year how long he could see Robinson coaching the Roosters. Politis joked: "Well, let me think, I might die in 10 years. But I think Robbo will be still here." Fast developing into one of the great modern coaches. This is his seventh season and in that time has won four minor premierships and two grand ­finals. That title count could be three within two months.

STEPHEN KEARNEY (Warriors)

Contract: 2022

Safety rating: 4

The Warriors sent Shaun Johnson packing because they were sick of him failing to consistently live up to his $1 million price tag. After another failed season, we are entitled to question if the mentality at the Warriors was Johnson's undoing rather than the other way around. A squad that should be playing finals football every year. In fairness, this problem existed well before Kearney arrived.

MICHAEL MAGUIRE (Wests Tigers)

Contract: 2021

Safety rating: 7

In the top-eight hunt despite four of the club's five highest-paid players currently not being in the top-grade squad in Russell Packer, Ben Matulino, Josh Reynolds and Chris McQueen. Tigers fans were filthy when Ivan Cleary walked out but we haven't heard too many complaints recently given the job Maguire has done, along with the resurgence of Benji Marshall and Robbie Farah.