Inside story: Why Maguire was spared the axe at the Wests Tigers
By Michael Chammas and Adrian Proszenko
Updated September 21, 2021 — 3.02pmf
Michael Maguire fronted the club’s football committee on Monday facing an uphill battle to keep his job.
A board meeting had already been set up for 4pm to determine his future, with indications from within the club suggesting Maguire was a dead man walking.
In the meeting, Maguire agreed to a range of provisions around the structure and operation of the football department in 2022, including the implementation of Tim Sheens in a coaching director role.
One of the other concerns that was raised, which was raised in the findings of the internal review, was a separation between the club and the football department.
Maguire was told there would need to be greater engagement between the club and football department, but also was made aware of the club’s desire to have a greater say in the people he surrounds himself with.
At the end of the meeting, the element of the board that wanted Maguire to continue were reluctant to meet for the scheduled board meeting. It was subsequently cancelled, giving the club the night to think about the future of the club.
Privately it believed that even if it decided to move on, the man they wanted as a replacement - Penrith assistant Cameron Ciraldo - was unlikely to take the job at such late notice given his commitment to the Panthers and their quest for a premiership.
This morning the football committee reconvened. The decision, which had swayed multiple times since the club’s final round humiliation at the hands of Canterbury, had to be made.
Ultimately it was decided that it was in the best interest of the club to back Maguire, at least for another year, despite obvious concerns from people in positions of power to start fresh.
“Yesterday there was a football committee meeting and the concerns that were raised by the football review were brought to Michael’s attention,” chairman Lee Hagipantelis told the Herald on Tuesday afternoon.
Michael responded to them in a genuine and sincere manner, and the football committee was very impressed. There’s no questioning of Michael’s passion, commitment and dedication to the club. It was simply a process we had to go through. The board meeting that was convened yesterday was only convened if required.
“It was determined it was not required, and we wished to deliberate further, which we did this morning. The determination was was made to affirm Michael’s employment. We immediately relayed the news to Michael who was humbled by the show of faith in him by the club.”
Maguire has for now been spared the axe, with the coach to remain in charge of the Wests Tigers after surviving the club’s controversial review.
Maguire is under contract for the next two seasons, but there was speculation he was to be sacked for the club’s underwhelming 13th-placed finish. However, the club has confirmed he will remain in charge of the joint-venture outfit.
While we always understood this review and process would take time, it was the responsibility of the football committee to ensure all information was considered to make the right decisions for the club moving forward,” Tigers CEO Justin Pascoe said in a statement.
“Michael has been with the club over arguably its most challenging time with the COVID-19 pandemic, has overseen significant change both on and off the field throughout his tenure and, on behalf of all at Wests Tigers, I’d like to thank him for his effort so far.
“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.
“We believe that through Michael’s vast experience and by continuing to challenge the way we operate, we will continue drive the high standards and behaviours needed to ensure we achieve our goals as a club.”