Sport

Kearney a perfect fit for Warriors

Head coach Brian McClennan gives instructions during a New Zealand Warriors NRL training session.
Head coach Brian McClennan gives instructions during a New Zealand Warriors NRL training session. Hannah Johnston - Getty Images

IT'S impossible not to feel some empathy for Warriors coach Brian McClennan, who appears set for the chop after just one season.

McClennan, a Kiwi with a much-celebrated coaching career in the English Super League, was on a hiding to nothing when he took over from Ivan Clearly at the Warriors.

Last year's grand finalists, 2010 club champions and National Youth Competition premiers for two successive seasons, the Warriors were heavyweights in our game.

Understandably, Warriors management and fans are irate, and their fall from grace has been quite astonishing.

Admittedly they have had their share of injuries, but they were the only club unaffected by one of the most brutal Origin series in history.

In reality, they should now be cruising into the finals - instead they are just four points shy of the wooden spoon. So, if the old "buck stops at the top" theory stands, coach McClennan has to be under the pump.

The demise of McClennan looks as though it will expedite the return to NRL coaching of Stephen Kearney, a favourite son and one of rugby league's genuine good blokes.

The informed say he is a much better coach than his record at Parramatta suggests, although the results since his departure suggests a very scatty team indeed.

A foundation player with the Warriors, Kearney is highly respected in his homeland. He and the Warriors appear the perfect fit.

Just get it right

HAD Tony Archer been able to alter his decision last Sunday, the Broncos might well have beaten the Bulldogs. Or, they still may have lost.

But in this modern age of rugby league, with two referees on the field with differing opinions, why can't they change their verdict when they are wrong? If the grand final winner was determined on a decision by a referee who said, on the field to the players, "sorry, I made a mistake but it's too late now", it would be a PR disaster.

Last Sunday, Archer incorrectly penalised Broncos centre Jack Reed for a flop, but at the same time he was blowing his whistle, his assistant, Gavin Badger, said Reed had been pushed by a Bulldogs player. Archer then made the "sorry" call and the Dogs scored two tackles later.

And for those thinking I'm bitching as a Broncos supporter, something similar occurred earlier in the season, benefitting the Broncos.

Lachlan Maranta dived on a loose ball, ran away and set up a try against the Roosters after one referee had called "held' as the other simultaneously yelled "play on".

It seems ludicrous that with the level of technology available, the correct decision is not made. Fans would appreciate accuracy rather than an adherence to something in the rule book written eons before video replays and mics on referees became an integral part of our game.

Surely when a conflict of opinion is so obvious, arriving at the correct decision is all that matters.

Titans look gone

ALTHOUGH stranger things have happened, the chances of the Titans qualifying for the finals appear done and dusted.

They should beat wooden-spoon combatants the Eels and Panthers in the next two weeks and in doing so improve their percentage, but a win against the Sea Eagles, at Brookvale, in the last round is a huge ask.

And while the Titans have suffered more injuries this season than coach John Cartwright would care to recall, the loss of Luke Bailey for the remainder of the season - and maybe even forever - is huge.

Forget the supposed "star" signings, Bailey and Scott Prince have been the best value buys the Titans have made.

And Bailey, the rising 33-year-old from Port Kembla, had been as good this season as he was when he played Test football almost a decade ago - probably better.

A snapped Achilles tendon on an ageing prop would end the career of most, but hopefully not Bailey. The Titans may have some young bulls in their ranks who can fill the No.8 jersey, but they won't do it with the same desire, commitment and good old-fashioned guts.

Topics:  brian mcclennan new zealand warriors nrl



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