If we ever needed evidence that in today’s
NRL premiership too much blame is placed on the coaches and not enough on the
players for poor team performances, then it has been obvious this week.

The way some commentators and fans have
gone after the Roosters’ coach Ricky Stuart, the Eels’ Brian Smith, and today
the Sharks’ Stuart Raper, you would almost swear rugby league is a game played
between two coaches – not 26 players!

While there are issues surrounding Brian
Smith’s coaching style and his selection methods, the simple fact is that far
too many Eels players have been performing well below expectations. Their for
and against record is damning evidence of that – 74 points for, 139 against. In fact, the Eels have actually scored less
points than the Rabbitohs who are yet to win a game, and the players need to
accept the bulk of the blame for that.

But the surprise packet when it comes to
coaches under pressure is the Roosters Ricky Stuart, who also happens to be the
new Kangaroos National Coach. And didn’t the open line callers give it to him
over the Easter weekend. The Roosters, with all their “stars”, are
teetering on the edge of the top eight with three wins and three losses.

I’m not certain whether this is an
advantage or not, but Stuart won’t have the chance to get the pressure “eased”
until Anzac Day, when the Roosters meet the Dragons. Looking at the Roosters
line up for the game – with names such as Minichiello, Flannery, Anasta,
Morley, Wing, Fitzgibbon, Harrison – is it really fair to put the bulk of the blame on the coach? I
think not.

The latest coach to feel the wrath of fans
is the Cronulla Sharks Stuart Raper. The Sharks have had just one win and four
losses and look long shots to make the finals even at this early stage, and he
is at long odds to get some relief this weekend – the Sharks have to take on
the unbeaten Cowboys!

As I have said before – who would want to
be a coach in the NRL premiership?

Peter Fray

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