Mick Potter on his West Tigers future: “I want to start to plan for 2015 unless I’m told otherwise”
The Sunday Telegraph
September 07, 2014 12:00AM
WESTS Tigers coach Mick Potter finally gives his side of the story on Robbie Farah, the club’s nightmare season and his decision to fight on.
I feel like this could be your final interview as Wests Tigers coach, do you?
Well, at this stage I don’t know if it’s going to be. But I’d like to think with the new board coming in, that would enable me to continue on.
Why, after all the agendas, lack of respect and back-stabbing, Mick? How could you possibly want to be at the Tigers in 2015?
I can tell you right now, I definitely want to coach the Tigers for next year and beyond. I’ve still got something to offer the organisation. I know good practices, I know integrity, I know honesty and I know about hard work.
I also know the players are prepared for that hard work. They’re a good bunch of players and I know if we stay injury free, we’ll have a big crack in 2015.
Why should the new board keep you?
There’s been some progression from the last couple of years. The young kids that have come up have shown that they can step up and they need another strong off-season to get better. And we’ve had an horrendous run of injuries over the last year and this year in particular — it’s been mostly backs.
To lose players of the calibre of Braith Anasta and Liam Fulton has really put a dent in our aspirations. And 10 rounds in, we were very hopeful that we were going to be there when the whips were cracking.
When will you get a chance to address the new board?
At this stage I don’t have a meeting scheduled. I look forward to meeting them soon.
So are you turning up to work on Monday?
I’ll go into the office regardless.
Why? The season is over and you haven’t been told you’re wanted for 2015.
I want to start planning for 2015, unless I’m told otherwise.
Your contract expires on November 1. Have you even been able to lock in a return
to training date?
Yeah, we’re back at the end of October, for testing and we’ll see who scrubs up in the testing and who doesn’t.
But you don’t know if you’re going to be there?
So who is making decision on recruitment and retention of players if the Wests Tigers don’t know who the coach is?
That’s still an on-going process with the coaches that are there and the recruitment manager and the CEO. That goes on regardless whether or not the head coach is there.
Brian Smith was appointed halfway through the year to conduct a review of football operations. Was it necessary?
We had some issues as an organisation and I agree, I think it needed to have an outsider look at the place on how the structure was.
What issues are you talking about?
It wasn’t so much what was happening at the head coaching level, but right through the coaching staff and also about facilities. The facilities are 1980s. We need to upgrade our facilities and that was the most urgent thing. The physio, rehab, medical area that needs an overhaul and that comes back to finance.
There was nothing in that report that we didn’t know already, but I think Grant (Mayer, Tigers CEO) felt we needed an independent view at it, so when the new board came in it wasn’t just us having a whinge, it was legitimate.
Those issues, is that what you will raise with the board?
Did you feel threatened by the appointment of Brian to conduct that review?
Not at all.
It’s been a lean period since the Robbie Farah-Gorden Tallis blow-up. To me, that’s proof the entire saga had some impact on the players.
I think it’s played its part, but there’s other factors. There’s injuries, plenty of them and then there’s other people out there that make it really tough to do this job.
Do you feel like you’ve been coaching with your hands tied behind your back?
That’s exactly how I feel. It’s been very tough and I’d like to think that I haven’t compromised on the way I coach or any of the principles that I do around the place.
Your relationship with Robbie Farah, how would you describe it?
Robbie and I get along fine. We often have a coffee or some breakfast and just meet up to talk about the team, talk about himself and how he’s going. And what we need to do better. I value Robbie’s comments, he’s a senior player … and all he wants to do is win and that’s no different to me. I’d like to continue to coach Robbie.
Robbie has stated he supports you. Has he told you he wants you to be the coach?
Not in those words, but I feel I’ve got Robbie’s support. He’s made it public that whether it’s me or someone else, he’ll support the coach and right now, that’s me.
What about Grant Mayer, do you have his support?
I think so, yeah. I’m confident of that. I think he’s doing a fine job. He’s working to a budget and taking the club in the right direction.
Anyone who knows the game can see what is brewing at the Tigers. There is some terrific young talent. Is that why you don’t want to leave?
That’s part of it, but when you start a job, you don’t want to leave it halfway through either. And we’re only halfway through as far as our younger players reaching their potential.
Luke Brooks, Teddy (James Tedesco), I really don’t want to single guys out because they are all such great young talent who all want to listen and learn. I can see a very bright future for the whole organisation.
How soon will you know, how soon will the Tigers fans know, who their coach is?
That’s the question everyone keeps asking. I would love to know, too.