@wt2k said in Madge Maguire - Mega Thread:
Chairman has done a Q&A with chammas.
Sydney Morning Herald rugby league reporter Michael Chammas spoke to Wests Tigers chairman Lee Hagipantelis to find out why Michael Maguire was spared the axe.
Chammas: What transpired in the last 24 hours because it appeared Michael Maguire was a dead man walking on Monday? Was there a meeting or not?
Hagipantelis: There was a football committee meeting at 2.30pm [on Monday]. Michael Maguire addressed the football committee for the purpose of responding to concerns that had been raised by the internal review document. There was a 4pm board meeting scheduled to take place if required following the football committee. After Michael’s address, it was decided that the board meeting did not need to proceed, and therefore I cancelled it. The football committee reconvened this morning [Tuesday] after deliberating overnight and affirmed Michael’s engagement as the NRL head coach.
Chammas: The club’s performances haven’t improved in the last three years. What makes you think things will change next year?
I think there have been changes over the last three years, which aren’t reflective of the results on the paddock. There’s no doubt that we haven’t improved to the extent that we wanted. We finished 13th this year, 11th last year and ninth the year before. It is not the direction we wanted to go in, but I think we’ve put around Michael resources and opportunities for him to really excel next year and progress. We’ve got a very young and talented roster. I think it’s the youngest in the league. There’s a real smell about 2005 [when the Tigers won the premiership] with this roster, that they’re young, they’re keen and they’re hungry to learn. I think Michael Maguire is the right person to teach them.
Chammas: Are you concerned about recruitment, given the talk about Michael’s inability to attract players?
Hagipantelis: That’s a narrative that we’ve had to deal with. Unfortunately, there is a perception that it’s a self-fulfilling narrative but that’s not the impression that we’ve had. We’ve had a very positive response from players and from player managers to Michael and to the club itself. We regard the Wests Tigers as a destination club. There is a lot to offer at the Wests Tigers. I think Tim Sheens is going to be a very attractive proposition. So, it is a narrative that we’ve had to deal with but I don’t think we need to be concerned by it.
Chammas: You have been very critical of the team’s performances under Michael. Have you changed your opinion of him?
Hagipantelis: No, I’m very critical of losing. It’s not something that I’m used to and not something that I’m ever going to accept. But I’m not critical of Michael. I don’t have the level of experience or expertise to criticise him as a coach. He is a two-time premiership winning coach. He has all the qualifications and experience necessary to do the job. I’m unhappy finishing 13th, as our fans and members should be, but as a person and as a coach I’ve never been critical of Michael.
Chammas: He will head into next year under enormous pressure. How do you expect him to perform in an environment where an axe hangs over his head every week?
Hagipantelis: The pressure will be external, it won’t be internal. It won’t be pressure we’ll be putting on Michael or the playing group. We will provide them all the support and resources that they need to succeed, and we expect them to succeed. The pressure will be from journalists - such as yourself Michael and others, of course - who have an expectation now moving forward as to why the employment was confirmed. We expect Michael to do his best.
Chammas: Were you concerned that you couldn’t get Cameron Ciraldo as coach? Did that play a part in the decision-making process?
Hagipantelis: Well it would have, had we made a play for Cameron Ciraldo. The fact is we didn’t. We did not consider any alternatives whatsoever. We did not approach any alternative candidates, and we did not speak to anyone about any alternative candidates. Our focus was solely on the Wests Tigers and the coaching department as a group within the football department, which was the subject of the review.
Chammas: What was Michael’s reaction when you told him?
Hagipantelis: I think relief. There’s been a lot of media pressure on Michael and his family. Sometimes we forget that there’s a real-life human being behind all of this. We forget that Michael’s a married man with a young family. I think it’s very unfortunate for him to go through this process, but having said that I think he’s appreciative of it. I think he realises that there was an opportunity for us to actually really take time to pause, look at the organisation holistically, look at what we’re doing well, what we haven’t done well what we need to address moving forward to improve.
Chammas: What will change next year, and how does Tim Sheens fit into that?
Hagipantelis: Well, there will be some structural changes with respect to key personnel, there’ll be some procedural changes as well. They will be dealt with in-house. I think Tim Sheens will bring a lot to the organisation. I’ve dealt with him quite extensively over the last few months. He’s very impressive and his knowledge of the game has been next level. I think he’s going to be of great assistance to Michael and the NRL team. This is a man, of course, who has coached over 700 first-grade games. You don’t see that often. I think he will be an incredible value as a resource to the football department as a whole.
Chammas: Will Michael report to Tim Sheens next year?
Hagipantelis: I don’t know if we sorted out exactly the management structure as such, and I’m not really fussed about reporting. I think people work together. There is a hierarchy in place, but in terms of nuances of where people sit in that hierarchy - that doesn’t concern me. They’ll work it out for themselves. The fact is, Tim by reason of just his stature in the game and who he is, will take on a very senior role.
Chammas: What does this all mean for the future of Luke Brooks because it’s said he hasn’t enjoyed his time under Michael Maguire?
Hagipantelis: That’s not the feedback we’re getting at board level. The response we’re getting is Luke is absolutely committed and loves this club. He’s a local junior. He’s played all of his professional career with Wests Tigers. We would like to see him finish his career with the Wests Tigers despite reports to the contrary in the press. Luke Brooks is staying with the Wests Tigers and will be our halfback in 2022 and beyond. So if there are any genuine, legitimate concerns that we need to deal with, they’ll be dealt with in-house. But as I say, that’s not my understanding or impression as to what’s happened.
Chammas: What about the criticism of yourself, Justin Pascoe and the board in regard to this process?
Hagipantelis: Some of it is legitimate, some of it is not. The process did take a little bit longer than what I would have liked. The other thing that I do regret, and it’s most unfortunate, [is] that far too much of this process was played out in the media. There was far too much engagement, by some within the organisation, of the media. Yesterday, for example, was in my view a debacle and an embarrassment to the club. As the chairman, I’m greatly concerned. I made those concerns known to my fellow board members in no uncertain terms. The process itself, however, I thought was very fair and equitable. I thought it was an opportunity for all key personnel to address the board in a very comfortable and confidential environment.
Chammas: There’s a lot of pressure on Justin Pascoe to be removed as the CEO. He’s overseen the failures of the last six years. Is that fair or unwarranted?
Hagipantelis: I think it’s fair that we’re all subject to criticism. But I think there is an attempt to align Justin’s role with what happens on the field and I think that is inherently unfair. If someone can convince me that Justin’s termination as the CEO would reflect in better on-field performance, then I’d be happy to recommend that. Or if I felt that my resignation as chair of the organisation would result in better on-field performance, then I would resign. But I don’t see the necessary alignment between what we do in terms of administration and management, where we rely on the expertise of others, and they’ve got to be responsible or accountable for what they do. That’s not an attempt to shirk responsibility and say we can’t be held accountable for what happens on the paddock. If there are changes to be made at board level or executive level, I’m happy to entertain them once someone can convince me that those changes will result in a better on-field performance.
Chammas: How do you expect next year to pan out, because every week there is going to be speculation about Michael’s future. Has he been given assurances that he will see out next year?
Hagipantelis: Michael hasn’t been given that assurance, but I’m happy to do so. Michael Maguire still has two years on his contract. He’s expected to fulfil that contract. There is no suggestion whatsoever that there will be a review or consideration at a six- or the eight-round mark of season 2022.