ew Wests Tigers coach Michael Maguire isn’t shying away from the high-intensity approach he used to being success to former clubs South Sydney Wigan now that he has his feet under the desk at Concord.
There was a perception that Maguire’s approach ended up burning out Rabbitohs players and was a reason for him being moved on for rookie Anthony Seibold, with the club jumping from 11th in Maguire’s final season in 2017 to third in Seibold’s first this year.
Speaking at the Tigers’ Concord training base on his first day of official duties, Maguire said he had learned plenty in his 12 months away from a head coaching role and admitted he may do some things differently if he had his time over again.
He stressed that whatever approach he takes over his tenure will be one tailored to the Tigers’ players and situation, but also pointed out his approach had been successful in the past, with Wigan taking out the Super League grand final in 2010 and Challenge Cup final in 2011 under his guidance before he helped South Sydney break a 43-year premiership hoodoo in 2014.
“I probably haven’t changed my personality too much from Wigan to Souths and they seemed to get to the right places,” Maguire said when pressed on his approach at a media session on Monday.
"I’m sure there’s going to be some intensity at some stages.
"It takes a hard-working team to be successful and if they choose to do that this team can go a long way in moving up the ladder in this competition.
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"At times [the criticism is] probably fair but I also enjoy winning too. Being able to win competitions is part of what it takes, intensity around what you do coaching.
“I’ll have that similar feel around what we do here but in saying that it’s getting to know and understand the players. The appreciation of each of the players is what I’m about and growing them away from the field is a real key in how I grow the players.”
Maguire’s somewhat delayed start to the 2019 pre-season was a result of his international commitments as coach of New Zealand, having only landed back in the country in Friday.
Club CEO Justin Pascoe said rather than being a drawback, he believed Maguire’s dual roles may further develop him as a coach as well as providing the club a recruitment edge in terms of luring Kiwi representatives to Concord.
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“We spoke about it through the process and our position was he would get not only personal development but professional development through coaching the New Zealand squad,” Pascoe said.
“Alluding to the fact he’s going to be in the [player recruitment] market, [New Zealand is] a fairly strong market around production of players so I think there’s a competitive advantage as well.”
Pressed on the odds of luring more Kiwis to join what is already a bumper crop of mostly former New Zealand internationals at the club, Maguire smiled “you never know”.
Of the club’s immediate future, Maguire said a return to the finals was the goal for 2019 but wouldn’t be drawn into making any bold claims about winning a competition in his first season in black, white and gold.
He also reiterated his desire to work with – and hopefully extend the contract of – halfback Luke Brooks, who is off contract at the end of 2019 and as such can be approached by rival clubs.
“I’ve spoken to Brooksy a few times… I’m looking forward to sitting down with him and educating him and building his game,” Maguire said.
"I really enjoy working with halves, it’s something I’ve always had a passion for, the spine. Brooksy is a great talent. He’s spent a lot of time at this club.
"The way he’s developed his game, he’s right in the prime of being able to take it forward. He’s got good people around him, Benji [Marshall] and Josh [Reynolds]. It’s the makings of a very strong spine.
"He’s a big part of the club. I want to build a relationship with him first then talk to him about his game.
“I want to impart as much knowledge as I can to him to make him a better player. For any player, when you’re at a club you’re growing and learning you can become a better player.”