The Only Way Is Gus, Baby!

With Ricky Stuart making the decision that he would stand down from his post as New South Wales coach we have seen a lot of maneuvering among potential replacements over the last few days.

Brad Fittler, Laurie Daley and Trent Barrett have all be mentioned at the top of everyone’s list of candidates along with the great man himself, Phil Gould.

Coaching at State Of Origin level is a very different beast than coaching at NRL level. You don’t have to look any further than the contrast between Craig Bellemy and Mal Meninga to see that a great club coach isn’t necessarily assured of success at club level.

At club level, Craig Bellemy is one of the games greatest ever coaches. His record speaks for itself. While I do think he did more to help NSW than most people like to give him credit for, the fact is he never won a State Of Origin series while he was in charge of the Blues.

Mal Meninga on the other hand wasn’t a great club coach. There is a reason he has won seven State Of Origin series in a row and yet is never considered for any of the vacant club posts. However, he has got the job done at State Of Origin level for the Maroons!

When I look at Fittler, Daley and Barrett, I see an incredible lack of coaching experience. Of the three, only Fittler has coached at club level. I personally think Fittler has what it takes to be a great coach, but he needs to get back into club land to do that.

Daley has some experience coaching the Country side, but what is that really worth? As for Barrett, he has been involved in the State Of Origin coaching staff for a while, but once again, how much is that really worth as far as experience goes?

I personally believe New South Wales should move heaven and earth to get Phil Gould to coach the Blues. He has the runs on the board, he isn’t coaching a club side and he would know better than anyone else how to use his assistant coaches to the best of their ability.

New South Wales need an experienced coach. We need a leader that players can look to and know that he has won in the past, he knows what it takes. With Fittler, Daley of Barrett, we would be heading into a series with one major issues that you would not be able to hide from the players. We need to win a series, but we will be doing it while the coach is finding his feet.

That isn’t good enough.

As a Panthers fan I’d be happy for Gould to take time away from his work as the Penrith Panthers General Manager to take the role on. The one question I do have…is his health up to it at the moment. He has a hard enough job at Penrith without the weight of Origin weighing on him.

When asked if he would throw his hat into the ring, Gould didn’t rule himself out. That is a pretty good indicator that he would be willing to take the job on if asked. The big thing I would suggest is that the NSWRL would need to approach him and offer him the job though rather than have him apply.

Are the NSWRL smart enough to make that approach? I wouldn’t bet my life on it!

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