Today the Wests Tigers faithful are rejoicing in the fact that their team has finally located a pulse. It may be waterlogged, but it’s beating.
The process wasn’t pretty, but last night at Leichhardt Oval they eventually emerged from the mud wrestle on top of the Cowboys in a sodden contest that involved some fortuitous video decisions.
It was a soggy win in front of a handful of the hardy that temporarily brought to a close a nightmare seven week period for the Tigers, and as one of those friendly clubs that is hard to dislike, I’m happy for the team to enjoy a win or two while ever it remains in a non-threatening position miles out of the top eight.
As a person with no emotional attachment to the club whatsoever, my opinion is in no way influenced by their recent stint of mediocrity, nor am I under any obligation to not turn a one-win molehill into a mountain. That’s why I’m going to revel in the heat of the moment and heap unlikely credit on coach Mick Potter.
This man with the softly spoken disposition of a cinder block has been downright dogged in the eye of a raging cloudburst of crap so far in 2013.
From the start, the double Dally M Medallist was always going to taste the whip by taking the job at Wests.
He was flick-passed a plundered playing group from Tim Sheens, and with the low exchange rate on credibility for Super League success in trade with the Australian game, public patience was always going to be thin.
Over the course of a so-far forgettable campaign where most things have gone south, not once has the new boss really lost his rag.
Not a mope, finger-point, buck-pass or media meltdown. At least in the public forum anyway.
It’s a super effort from the new guy, considering the assembly of projectiles flying in his direction that would’ve given him grace to catapult his toys from the cot, a la Des.
He’s had a team list violated by injury, a dysfunctional board hamstrung by factionalism above him and an inherited list that is low on depth and top heavy with some wealthy underperformers.
Add to that a procession of horrific beltings, and you can see why it’s amazing that he hasn’t walked in to Concord Oval for a Monday debrief and just gone postal.
As each record-setting pasting unfolded in front of his eyes, not once did Potter pick up the coaches manual and turn to Ricky Stuart’s foreword or the 560-page chapter on referee evaluation by Geoff Toovey.
No way. He just copped the chinning on the iron jaw of his stony-face and got on with the job of preparing his undermanned team to be lapped the following week.
Sure, he might have blotted his copybook once with the wee boo-boo of benching Benji Marshall. Apart from inspiring the fine ‘Benchy’ headline, it wasn’t an acutely shrewd move, but hey, who hasn’t pissed off the boss at work before themselves?
As the stupor of his folly set in, he never offered any sugar-coating of the situation, and when the move eventually combusted in his face, he owned up to his error and crumbled to Beau Ryan’s badgering by immediately reinstating the skipper to the starting line up.
Potter’s perpetual state of steely composure in 2013 is admirable and many others would’ve crumbled by now with a hole in the coaches box fibro.
His stoic nature is comparable to his playing days where he was an unflappable fullback who was repeatedly bashed under the high ball, a torturous exercise akin to the majority of his press conferences this year.
I admit he might not have shown himself to be one of rugby league’s great coaches yet. But you can’t deny, if there was a bonus point system for exemplary behaviour and commendable conduct, the Tigers would have a few more in the bank thanks to Potter’s gentlemanly coolness, and an extra half a point for Steve Humphreys’s decision to give himself the arse.
Well may he be given a sustained run at the head coaching role at Wests, free of board room assurances, impatient fans and maybe if he’s lucky, Adam Blair.