I Would Not Give Any Coach A Five Year Deal

Yesterday the Gold Coast Titans gave the ultimate show of support to their coach John Cartwright.

You can not fault the job he has done since the Titans entered the NRL a few years ago. They were competitive in their first season and over the last two years they have proven to be one of the better regular season clubs in the game.

They are consistent, they are bringing through quality youngsters, they are a club top players are willing to go and play for and at the end of the day, the player group seems to be pretty happy under his coaching.

Still, to sign a coach, any coach, through until 2016….I wouldn’t do it.

When I posted this opinion on Twitter yesterday I was asked if that stand would even extend to Wayne Bennett. My answer was yes. I would not sign Wayne Bennett to a five year deal.


Coaching is a funny game. It is an art, but it is also a science. How many jobs can you say that about?

Coaches to a certain extent, no matter how good they are, are at the mercy of outside forces they have no control over. Things like the quality of juniors in their local area, the performance of players they buy from other clubs, the salary cap, the club managements ability to manage the salary cap and keep the talent levels high.

Then you have to think of things such as if there is a cataclysmic off field incident. If one or more of your stars does something stupid, get banned or even just brings pressure on the club, the coach has to deal with these things no matter what.

All that and I haven’t even mentioned injuries!

I think it takes a certain type of person to want to be an NRL coach and be able to stand up to the constant pressure the game puts them under. I imagine some of them during Christmas Dinner sitting in a world of their own and fretting about a defensive issue they know their team has or how they can make a certain play work when the just don’t have the talent they need to make it happen.

With all of this in mind, a coaches job security hangs by a very thing thread.

Wayne Bennett, Tim Sheens, Phil Gould, Ricky Stuart, Brian Smith….all of them have felt pressure to keep their jobs at some point in their careers. All of them at some point have had the CEO looking over the shoulder, not having to say anything, watching closely, wondering if its time to let the axe fall.

No one is immune.

So why wouldn’t I sign John Cartwright to a five year contract extension?

It would take a couple of injuries and a few blown fuses to turn the Titans, or anyone season, on its head. Look at the Bulldogs over the past decade and the way they have gone from champions, to also rans, to a contender, and last season being completely off the pace.

In the NRL these days, it takes very little to go from being a contender to being completely out of the hunt.

The big moment that all coaches face at some point though is when they lose their players. When the times are tough, and they have said all they can say, and the players just don’t respond any more.

There is no coming back from that.

I hope John Cartwright goes well. I hope the Titans do well. I hope he completes his contract right through to 2016 and signed another extension.

At the end of the day though, there is one thing that is inevitable. At some point, John Cartwright at the Titans will be up. It happens to every single coach in the game.

Five year deal? I wouldn’t want to have to pay that long contract out if something goes wrong in 2011.

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