Manly’s sacking of Geoff Toovey eerily similar to Wests Tigers disposal of former coach Mick Potter
The Daily Telegraph
July 30, 2015 5:33PM
LAST weekend marked the anniversary of the Wests Tigers’ infamous board meeting to set up Mick Potter’s sacking.
Imagine if the Tigers would have given Potter the same support Jason Taylor has been afforded this year.
You may remember it all came out late last July, just ahead of the Tigers’ crucial clash against the Dragons.
At that point the Tigers were still in the hunt for a top-eight finish after putting the cleaners through Canterbury a week earlier.
Mitchell Moses had starred against the Bulldogs, having a hand in no less than six tries in the 46-18 thrashing. Luke Brooks was also in fine touch at that point.
Then news was leaked on the Sunday the Tigers were set to take on the Dragons, that Potter was a dead man walking.
It turned out Potter was given a stay of execution, allowed to coach out the season, but from that day on Potter had no hope of keeping his job.
And when the new board took over at the end of the season, Potter was told the club was heading in a “new direction”.
Ask yourself this Tigers fans: Are you happy with the direction the club is heading in today?
On Friday night they take on the in-form Melbourne Storm with the Tigers sitting stone motherless last on the NRL ladder.
Was Mick Potter really that bad a coach, or did he get a raw deal?
We ask the question not only because it is the anniversary of that fateful Tigers board meeting, but also because this week two more coaches have been sacked. Geoff Toovey and Rick Stone.
In particular, Toovey’s dumping has many of the hallmarks of Potter’s demise.
Just like Potter, Toovey had no chance. He finished last year with the Sea Eagles equal first at the end of the regular season. But before a game was even played this year Manly insiders were saying “it is a results driven business”.
When I was told the same line, I nearly dropped the phone. It made absolutely no sense, but perfect sense for a club searching for an excuse to sack their coach.
If Toovey’s future was really going to be determined by results, I figured, then he should not have started this year under any pressure whatsoever.
I remember talking to Joe Kelly in early February who categorically told me that there were no plans to get rid of Toovey. Asked specifically if Toovey would see out his contract, Kelly said: “Absolutely. He is on a contract for two more years.”
We all know now it was always more to do with the Glenn Stewart situation than the fact Toovey could or couldn’t coach. And there is obviously more to it than any of us will probably ever know.
But the way it was handled from the outset just left a bad taste. It certainly did not justify Toovey’s outstanding service to the club.
The whispering campaigns, from within, undermined Toovey’s credibility and authority. As was the case with Potter at the Tigers last year.
The hope for Toovey and his supporters now is that he can somehow manage to salvage something from the destruction to his reputation, and get the Sea Eagles into the finals.
Imagine if they can beat the Broncos in Gosford and go on with it. Manly have a history of coming good when everyone rights them off. Geoff Toovey has been a significant part of that history.
Wests Tigers coach Jason Taylor has struggled to get the best out of his team’s talents.
STILL on the Tigers, Jason Taylor seems to put a lot of focus on defence. It’s been pretty much his priority message this year, like he wants the Tigers to play like the Roosters.
Trouble is, they don’t have the Roosters’ roster. And as Taylor has pointed out, they won’t be recruiting for a good while to come.
So what do they do to turn it around?
Heading into the final weeks of the season, it would be great to see Luke Brooks and Mitchell Moses play to their strengths, give the fans a reason to hope as they look ahead to next year. These two were born to attack, not defend.
The fact is if you go through any team their halves are usually the weakest defenders. The reason for that is they are usually the little blokes who everyone targets.
The good teams find a way to hide them, or protect them. Jamie Soward comes to mind. Darren Lockyer. Benji Marshall. Anthony Milford.
The reason Blake Austin is going so well at the Raiders this year is not because of his defence. And remember, Austin was the player the Tigers let go because Brooks and Moses were considered the future.
Come next year the word is these two will be on a similar salary to Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
But whereas Austin is on about half of that, he has been a standout in 2015 because he has been allowed to play what’s in front of him.
What is holding Brooks and Moses back?
While every coach thinks it is important that all players should be able to tackle, the last thing they would be looking for when they are recruiting halves is their ability to defend.
After last week’s loss, Taylor said he felt the Tigers should have won the game. As brave as they were, I reckon most people watching figured the match was only ever going to finish one way, unless the Roosters lost interest.
The Tigers finished with two tries, that was never going to beat the Roosters.