DateSeptember 17, 2014
Chief Rugby League Reporter
Mick Potter could relaunch his coaching career at St George Illawarra as Wests Tigers begin their search for his replacement. The Tigers ended months of speculation by announcing they would not be renewing Potter’s contract.
The most likely candidates for the job are assistant coaches David Kidwell and Todd Payten, former Brisbane mentor Anthony Griffin, Roosters assistant Jason Taylor, St Helens’ Nathan Brown, NSW assistant Matt Parish and former Titans boss John Cartwright. A subcommittee of the new Tigers board has been charged with drawing up a shortlist of candidates, with about half a dozen expected to be invited for an interview. The successful applicant will be given complete control over the appointment of key football staff and the playing roster, something Potter never enjoyed during his tenure.
Tigers chief executive Grant Mayer sat down with Potter for an hour on Wednesday morning to inform him of the decision. While Potter will take time to digest the news, it is understood he could soon be back in the coaching ranks at another joint-venture outfit, as the Dragons are understood to be looking for a new assistant to the recently installed head coach Paul McGregor. Craig Young and Ian Millward are the present deputies at the Dragons but a complete review of football operations is being undertaken.
Potter has a rich history at the Red V, having won one of his two Dally M medals there in 1991. He also coached the club’s Premier League side for four years, a period in which the side enjoyed premiership glory. However, that did not translate into success at the Tigers, where his two-year stint was cruelled by a horror injury toll and instability in the boardroom, which resulted in continued speculation about his future. Not even three separate presentations to the board over the past six weeks, in which the former fullback presented his blueprint for the club’s future, was enough to save him.
The Tigers resolved to appoint Potter’s successor no later than October 27, with a view to commencing pre-season training on November 3. The fact Kidwell and Payten are also off contract means whoever gets the gig can assemble their own team without being shackled to incumbent staff.
There has been a push for Griffin, who is available now that his Broncos commitments are over, but other candidates also have claims. Kidwell is respected by the playing group, while Taylor has a rich history with the Magpies, a factor that could play a role because of the recent power shift towards the Western Suburbs side of the joint venture. Brown and Parish were considered the last time the job was available, while Payten is tipped to miss out and instead link with former Canberra teammate Andrew McFadden at the Warriors.
“He [Potter] inherited a really tough job and has always given his best,” Mayer said. "But it got to the stage where the board and management had to make a decision for the long-term benefit of the club. “That’s been very hard on Mick in particular but … I have no doubt that Mick Potter will find another coaching gig at another club.” Asked if Potter was hamstrung by not being in charge of key on- and off-field appointments, Mayer said: “Definitely in his first year he came on very late and inherited some of the staff that were here … With Mick’s involvement in recruitment and retention we’ve retained a lot of good, young players.”