Just three rounds into the 2006 season,
fans of the clubs that have changed coaches – but not until 2007 – must really
be wondering if their clubs have made the right choices.

On top of the table are the Newcastle
Knights, and now they are rightly the early favourites for the premiership, but
their coach Michael Hagan was punted (for next season) before the start of this
season.

Equal second last (the Warriors remain on
minus points) are the team he is going to – the Parramatta Eels. And on the
basis of their surrender against the Broncos yesterday they will struggle to
reach the dizzy heights achieved last year. Who is coaching the Eels? Brian
Smith, who will next season coach the Knights!

But it gets even more embarrassing for “far
sighted” club officials.

Also wallowing near the bottom of the table
are the Canberra Raiders. The Raiders have been lapped in their last two games,
70 to 32 by the Knights, and yesterday 56 to 20 by the Roosters. Any team that
concedes 126 points in two games has a problem.

And who is the coach of the woeful Raiders?
It’s one Matthew Elliott. Next season he won’t be there – he will be coaching
the Penrith Panthers, who currently sit equal top of the premiership table.

So the only coach involved in the merry go
round who can really smile is the Panthers’ John Lang. And where will he be
next year? Probably in retirement!

Sure it’s early days, but the wisdom
of swapping coaches a season in advance
was always dubious, and always going to put unnecessary pressure on those
coaches involved. If both the Eels and the Raiders keep
under-performing (and in the case of the latter it’s a grim outlook) the
pressure can only multiply.

The lot of an NRL coach is never easy. For
a couple of the current coaches, it’s become well nigh impossible.

Peter Fray

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