Sacked to saved in 6 hours: How ‘circus act’ Tigers flipped on Maguire
JAMES HOOPER from Fox Sports
September 21st, 2021 6:23 pm
On Monday morning word went around the Wests Tigers were preparing to read Michael Maguire his last rites as head coach at the club.
An email was sent informing board members about a 4pm meeting and a statement was drafted confirming Madge was no longer to be the Wests Tigers coach.
At 2.30pm Maguire fronted the Wests Tigers football committee charged with determining the fate of the head coach to plead his case via Zoom.
Whatever Maguire said to under pressure CEO Justin Pascoe, chairman Lee Hagipantelis and board members Simon Cook, Rick Wayde and Danny Stapleton, the pitch worked.
Because in the space of six hours Madge went from being out the door at Concord immediately to being the club’s head coach for a fourth straight season.
The 4pm board meeting was then cancelled as the football committee mulled over Maguire’s admission of his own shortcomings and his vision for 2022.
There were promises made about a complete overhaul of the Tigers football department.
By Tuesday morning the club was drafting an entirely different statement confirming Madge had survived the internal football club review and will remain Wests Tigers coach for 2022.
Head of football performance Tim Sheens has since been informed he will move into a football coaching director role sitting on top of the NRL side.
The sole casualty out of the all-encompassing internal review?
Assistant coach Wayne Collins. Yep, “Snoopy” is the only member of the Wests Tigers coaching staff who is gone for 2022. For now.
One of rugby league’s genuine good guys, it says everything about those who sit in the Tigers front office.
In the statement released on Tuesday Pascoe said: “We are firmly committed to building a high performing club. With our strong financial position, increased investment and recent success of our pathways teams, the new centre of excellence and continued work on a South West academy, the arrival of Tim Sheens and his experience in NRL systems, this club is posed to reap the rewards of several years of hard work.”
Firstly, we think he means “poised” to reap – not posed (SIC).
More importantly, Tigers members and fans are fed-up with the model diagrams of the Centre of Excellence and the corporate mumbo jumbo quotes.
During Pascoe’s six-year tenure, Wests Tigers have failed to make the finals every single season.
In the past three years, they’ve gone backwards.
Fans couldn’t care about the off-field success of the business when the on-field results are a road to nowhere.
Sheens, 71, is the great hope of the side to fix the mess.
The first immediate challenge will be trying to intelligently spend the $1.6 million the club still has out of its $9.3 million salary cap for next year.
The Tigers still have four spots available on the club’s NRL roster with the challenge of signing players one of the biggest pitfalls of Maguire’s tenure.
Joe Ofahengaue, James Tamou, BJ Leilua and James Roberts have hardly turned the club’s fortunes around.
Jackson Hastings and Oliver Gildart arrive from the UK Super League shortly but aside from that the Tigers are rolling into 2022 with a roster widely-regarded as simply not up to NRL standard.
Tigers power brokers have guaranteed they will refrain from giving Maguire a six to eight week deadline and will instead push all-in on Madge for next year.
But how would you know what might happen if there’s another 66-16 debacle like what we witnessed against the Melbourne Storm on the Sunshine Coast.
Sheens will be a genius if he can improve the perception of the club amongst the remaining 15 NRL sides.
Because from an outside perspective the Wests Tigers are a complete circus act.
After the last 48 hours, all that’s remaining is for the club to bring out the bearded lady.
Hooper sites Joe O, BJ Leilua, James Roberts and Tamou as being dud recruits. That bit is fair enough. But he conveniently forgets to mention a few other Madge signings… Doueihi, Laurie and Stefano: 3 signings who had very good seasons and are likely to keep improving.
Hooper is a deadbeat.