DateSeptember 15, 2014 - 11:45PM 5 reading now
Rugby League Writer
One of Mick Potter’s final acts as Wests Tigers head coach could be telling his assistants and candidates in line to replace him – Todd Payten and David Kidwell – to have the week off training. Potter sent his assistant coaches a text message over the weekend telling them to enjoy a week away from training this week, saying he could handle the lighter duties. Despite failing to make the finals, the NRL squad – or those fit enough to take part – resumed training on Monday and will stay on the paddock until the club’s grand final lunch on October 3 at Le Montage in Lilyfield, with the focus on testing ahead of next season. Potter’s own future remains uncertain with his tenure as Tigers coach potentially ending as early as this week.
Assistant coaches Kidwell and Payten are yet to be interviewed by the new board for the head coaching role, but both have expressed an interest in taking over from Potter. It is believed Kidwell has growing support, although the Tigers independent board is set to throw the position wide open to applicants.
It is expected departing Brisbane coach Anthony Griffin, Matt Parish and Jason Taylor will put their hands up for the role. Parish – who played for Balmain – was close to securing the head coaching role after Tim Sheens was sacked before Potter’s appointment for 2013. The NSW assistant coach stood down from his role as assistant coach to Ricky Stuart at the Raiders midway through this year. Potter – who has maintained his desire to stay on with the club – was on hand to watch the Tigers’ under 20s beat South Sydney 28-24 in their elimination final on Friday night. That came less than 48 hours after Potter presented to the new Wests Tigers board in a bid for a contract extension. It is believed Potter was quizzed about the reasons behind his team’s failure to qualify for the finals in successive years and questioned about his relationship with captain Robbie Farah.
Tigers 2005 premiership winner Payten is considered an unlikely choice to take over from Potter despite strong support from the playing ranks. Fairfax Media revealed on Sunday Payten had been headhunted by Andrew McFadden to join his former Canberra Raiders teammate as an assistant coach at the Warriors next year. Potter, Payten and Kidwell are all off contract on October 31.
Meanwhile, Raiders are sweating on utility back Blake Austin being granted a release from the final year of his Tigers’ deal to join Canberra next year. Ricky Stuart is keen to snatch Austin to play in the halves. The 23-year-old has requested a release.