Courtesy MSN Sports
Legend Issues Maguire Huge Ultimatum In Stinging Tigers Assessment
Michael Ennis doesn’t believe Michael Maguire possesses the class in his spine to match his premiership ambitions at the Tigers and urged the coach to make some tough decisions for next season or continue being classed as the NRL’s under-achievers.
The Tigers will miss the finals for a 10th consecutive season this year, with Saturday’s dire 30-6 loss, their fifth defeat in six games, all but wiping any chance of a miracle top eight berth.
Maguire has long highlighted his intentions to transform the Tigers into a consistent premiership force yet this year his side have looked anything but, conceding 23.1 points a game while ranking fifth in the competition for missed tackles with an average of 28.1 per game.
The premiership-winning coach called out his players’ commitment following the Panthers’ loss, and flagged the possibility of team changes this week with a view on next year.
“I want to be able to see the depths of some of the people we have in the organisation,” he said of team changes across the Tigers’ remaining four game.
“I’ve got a really committed group that’s been training underneath us. I’ll have a look and assess it. At the end of the day, whoever puts the jersey on has got to go out and compete and that’s something I’ll continually instil.”
There is a widely held view that the roster Maguire adopted upon his arrival at Concord at the end of 2018 would offer up its challenges in the early parts of his tenure, with some players in key positions on inflated salaries.
Maguire is reportedly considering shedding some of the dead weight, his comments post the loss to Penrith weighing to the belief that changes are afoot as the Tigers begin planning for 2021, given their finals hopes for this season have now been buried.
Ennis said it was time Maguire started singling out players throughout his spine and questioning whether they will help him win a premiership.
However, the former Origin player conceded a roster overhaul next season could be easier said than done given the lofty contracts of some of Maguire’s star players.
“I don’t know who’s not going to survive because if you’re trying to offload players other clubs are going to have to want to take them and the price packet that some of those players are on could prove to be a huge barrier,” Ennis told Fox League’s Big League Wrap.
"I think without a doubt a lot of the focus has got to go towards some of their key players. They need an overhaul of their spine in my opinion.
"Benji Marshall is coming toward the back end of his career and I’m not sure what Benji does there.
"I’ve been underwhelmed by Adam Doueihi, to be honest, at fullback, he looks out of confidence. I was really impressed with Adam Doueihi at the back end of the year last year for South Sydney under Wayne Bennett and he came to the Tigers and I had high hopes for him. He’s been disappointing particularly at the back end of this year.
"But Luke Brooks – 145 NRL games, 0 finals appearances in eight seasons – Michael Maguire needs to ask himself the question.
"He knows what premierships look like. He’s had Adam Reynolds, he’s had Luke Keary, he’s had Greg Inglis, he’s has Issac Luke, he’s had Api Koroiosau.
“He knows what it looks like and what sort of spine you need to win a premiership. He needs to ask himself the question: can Luke Brooks take this club to a premiership? Can Adam Doueihi do it?”
Upon suggesting Maguire needs to move on the likes of Marshall, Doueihi and Brooks, Ennis said retaining on-loan hooker Harry Grant was imperative.
“They need to move heaven and earth to try and persuade Harry Grant to stay at the club because he’s a star and he’s been their best player all season and the fact [is] when he walks out the door this year if he heads back to Melbourne it will leave a hollow feeling in the joint,” he added.
The Tigers are the NRL’s perennial ninth-placed finishers but this year appear destined to finish the lower on the ladder, currently sitting in 11th and with encounters against the Rabbitohs, Storm and Eels ahead.