The 2013 NRL season is going to be an interesting one to watch simply for the fact that the game finally has enough money to do things it hasn’t been able to do in well over a decade. How this changes the way the games administrators make decisions is anyone guess right now. Will we see exciting new developments come in to Rugby League, or will we still see a hangover of conservative thinking prevail across the game?
One thing we do know is that a number of very high profile people in the game will be under pressure to produce the good in 2013. I decided to take a look at some of the people under the most pressure.
He might not know a great deal about the game but he is about to get the most incredible crash course you have ever seen in your life. Being the NRL CEO is a 24 hour a day, 7 day a week job. He has to be a businessman, a politician, a social worker….oh and he needs to connect with the bloke on the hill throwing back his 14th beer. It is an incredible job, a tough job, and one that is going to age him. Rugby League runs on controversy and at the first sign of trouble all eyes will be on Smith.
He is easily the highest paid coach in the game and so far he has delivered very little for the Knights. In fact, he actually made them worse. The Knights recruitment has been far from impressive and it has the real look of a coach looking to win now, but who is going after players that are well past their best. You just can’t keep earning over $1 million dollars per season to coach teams that not only achieve nothing, but that look terrible in the process. On top of that, with Tinkler’s ownership of the Knights under threat and talk the club will release him of his obligations as an owner and start drawing on the $20 million they have in the bank, the clubs board will need to consider whether it is reasonable to pay the coach 1/20th of their fighting fund every 12 months.
He came in and pushed culture change at the club, which was needed. He brought in Ivan Cleary and pushed out a number of very high profile players as well as some promising juniors. He allegedly threatened players if they did not take pay cuts and now, heading into 2013, the fate of the Panthers solely lies at the feet of Phil Gould. If they struggle again in 2013 the focus will be on Gould. Has has made some positive changes, but at the end of the day the team needs to start winning games.
He is easily Parramatta’s highest paid player but it has been a long time since he delivered for the Eels. There is a feeling that for all of his talent, which is unquestioned Hayne simply doesn’t have the drive you hope a player with his ability has. At some point, you are what you are. Hayne might just not be the type of player that lives and dies by his achievements. If he has another disappointing season that is punctuated by injuries, a number of teams may balk at the idea of making him their highest paid player.
It doesn’t matter what he does, Marshall will be under pressure simply because he is one of the games great players. I felt as though he was unfairly critisized last season. He was one of a very few players in the Tigers lineup that was of any concern to opposition teams and was a victim of his teams poor form more than anything else. In steps a new coach, it is a new year…I think the Tigers have a worse lineup, but at the end of the day it will all be on Benji Marshall no matter what.
At only 23 years of age, Pearce is still learning the game. The problem is that he needs to becomes that great halfback many expect him to become NOW. Going missing in big games and leading teams to losing records is not what great halfbacks do. At some point, Pearce will become a bust. He either becomes a Johns or Langer, or he becomes Jarrod Mullen Mark II.
He is such a talented player, but off field issues coupled with pressure from a country full of amazing talent has Locke under the pump. The club has publicly stated that they are losing patience with the young speedster and you get the feeling that it wouldn’t take much for Locke to find himself on the outer at the Warriors if he can’t make a few changes in 2013.
So who do you think will be under the most pressure? Did I miss someone out? Log in and have your say in the comments section!
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