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NRL | Shire troubles while coaching distraction continues

Anthony Seibold was saying goodbye to his players while Wayne Bennett held his ground. Meanwhile another club’s financial situation made the headlines this week.

THE COACHING CIRCUS CONTINUES

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Well hasn’t this dragged on much longer than it should have?

It’s hard to keep up with what is a media beat up, what’s coming from the club hierarchy and what is coming from the coaches themselves. The one thing that’s clear is that this whole thing has been a mess and it’s surely a distraction for both playing groups, front offices, members and fans.

We were told that Bennett had scheduled a press conference for Friday morning and had called the players in for a meeting just before and it seemed like it was finally over and he was going to head to Souths with Seibold coming to the Broncos before Christmas. The time for the press conference came and the announcement was that nothing had changed and there was no update at all. Bennett called the press conference just to reaffirm that there was no change in the plans and the coaches would be staying put, much to the confusion of fans, journalists, the front offices and apparently even Anthony Seibold.

Why all the show from Bennett? He huffs and puffs about the media making big things out of nothing and dragging things out, while he goes out and pulls stunts like this? While Wayne can say “I have maintained my position from the start and nothing has changed”, it hardly seems fair to anyone involved for him to drag it on another week when it sure looked like he was daring the Broncos board to sack him so he can get his payout for his 2019 salary at the Broncos as well as an extra season on his Souths contract.

While Brisbane would foot the bill for that as well as paying Seibold to coach 2019, the whole situation has gone on too long and doesn’t make any sense. While Souths and Broncos fans can hope that both coaches will continue their focus on their current clubs for 2019 before a straight swap in 2020, how can either coach focus on developing juniors and re-signing players knowing they will be coaching a rival club next season?

Reports are that Tevita Pangai Junior and Corey Oates are inking extensions with Brisbane, however only on one season deals. Are they going to re-sign with the Broncos after Wayne leaves, or are they going to follow him? It’s these questions that will be getting asked which are the exact reason why this coaching circus is a big problem for the Broncos, and I have a feeling this saga is not over.

THE OTHER SIDE OF THE COACHING CIRCUS

There’s a lot of other people affected by all of this and apart from the coaching assistants who may even have doubts if they will have jobs if the coaching swap happens, I believe Souths are in the most precarious position for 2019.

While it seems that it has been a long time dream of Seibold to coach the Broncos, it also looks like he has been keen on this coaching swap throughout all of this and that could hardly make Souths players and fans feel very comfortable in knowing their head coach is prepared to walk out and join his new club in the pre-season.

Again I must stress that it’s hard to keep track with what reports out there are true, there was an article in the Courier Mail (also an owner of the Broncos) yesterday that makes the situation even more ridiculous: Everyone expected Bennett to announce the swap in his presser, including Anthony Seibold, who thought he would be announced as the Brisbane coach at a 4pm Broncos press conference.

Before Wayne spoke to the media, Anthony had a meeting with the Souths players to inform them of the swap and to say goodbye before finding out that he would be staying put. Channel 9 had footage last night of Seibold telling cameras to “get that f****** camera out of my face” as they tried to get a comment.

This goes to show his understandable frustration at the situation and while it raises questions about how he will react to the much greater media attention he will get as the Broncos boss, it also makes it quite clear what a distraction this has been for the Souths coach, and we can only wonder if he is able to give 100% effort to South Sydney when it looks like he is at least partly planning his new life in Brisbane. Complicated situation all around that could be solved by an immediate swap. Souths have no power here and it is up to Brisbane to sack Bennett and pay him out if they want everyone to move forward.

TROUBLE IN THE SHIRE

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Lots of headlines coming out of Cronulla this week with the ongoing salary cap drama, the Valentine Holmes aftermath, the signing of Shaun Johnson, rumours of Marty Taupau being signed, but the biggest headlines are that they are in such a dire financial position that they are having to sack front office staff to save money. To complicate the matter further, the Sharks have also lost three major sponsors: Opal Solar (front of jersey sponsor), Bang and Olufson (back) and Martec (sleeves). This is a major blow and will leave the club with almost bare jerseys for the 2019 season.

The Daily Telegraph had reported that the club had almost locked in a long term big money deal, however the sponsor pulled the pin after the Fifita and Dugan podcast drama earlier this year. Todd Greenburg has acknowledged that the club is going through financial difficulty, and while he was very careful in dodging questions, he reaffirmed that the NRL will no longer be bailing out clubs who have financial difficulty. While there has been articles in the last couple of seasons about the first club to go under could face the possibility of relocation, I  don’t want to speculate on this as I know it will get some people fired up. If the salary cap investigation results in a large fine (as is an expected punishment), it could be a massive blow for the club on top of everything else.

The Sharks have announced that they will spend all of their salary cap next season, which is significant after losing Holmes (NFL), Luke Lewis (retired), Jessie Ramien (Knights), Edrick Lee (Knights), Joseph Paulo (St Helens), Kurt Dillon (Rabbitohs) and Ricky Leutele (Toronto). Taupau would be a massive signing for them and strengthen a forward pack already boasting current/former rep players Paul Gallen, Aaron Woods, Andrew Fifita, Matt Prior and Wade Graham. Manly are no doubt going to try to hang on to Taupau however they are going through their own salary cap problems and can no doubt do with a bit of breathing room.

ANOTHER ONE LOCKED IN FOR PENRITH

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The Panthers announced this week that James Fisher-harris has signed on for another three years. This is a big boost for the club with a big year on the signing front after announcing new deals for Waqa Blake (2023), Moses Leota (2022), Jarome Luai (2021), Viliame Kikau (2022), Josh Mansour (2021), Dylan Edwards (2020), Isaah Yeo (2021), Tyrone May (2020), Regan Campbell-Gillard (2024) and Nathan Cleary (2024). With the young core and some certainty with their coach (Ivan Cleary – 2023).

Penrith no longer have any excuses with why they shouldn’t be contending for a premiership. Phil Goulds highly publicised five year plan didn’t go according to plan, but maybe his time frame was just a bit off. Peter Wallace is no doubt a massive loss in a crucial position, however he is staying involved in an assistant coaching role which is sure to help. A specialist hooker seems to be the only thing missing from the squad with the jury still out on whether Sione Katoa and Wade Egan will be able to join the elite number nines.

If the Panthers can stay healthy there is absolutely no excuse for not finishing near the top of the table.

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