A humiliating 38-0 loss to the Bulldogs on Sunday is shaping as the final nail in the coffin of Michael Maguire’s failed tenure at the Wests Tigers.
The club will continue through the process of undertaking an internal review over the next week, with the board to make the final determination on Maguire’s future soon after.
The club received a number of expressions of interest for the coach’s job on Sunday but maintains it won’t be looking at alternatives until a decision is made on whether Maguire, who still has two years to run on his deal, should lead the club next year.
The knives were out for Maguire before Sunday’s shellacking at the hands of the hapless Bulldogs, however that is expected to intensify as the club looks for answers following one of the most embarrassing losses in the joint venture’s history.
In a two-part investigation into the Wests Tigers over the weekend, chairman Lee Hagipantelis left fans under no illusion as to the club’s displeasure when providing an update on the review that will determine the coach’s future.
“The results do not reflect the financial commitment and investment that this club has made to the football department, nor the potential of what we believe to be a very exciting young roster,” Hagipantelis told the Herald before Sunday’s game. “Difficult questions need to be asked, but more importantly they must be answered.”
Embattled Wests Tigers coach Michael Maguire.Credit:Getty
“We all have a responsibility to this club, but more importantly to our fans and members to provide them an NRL team to be proud of. Have we done that this year? No we haven’t. One thing I have never done is question the absolute commitment and dedication of those within the organisation. However, that has not resulted in the level of success we anticipated or expected.”
The Tigers’ next scheduled board meeting isn’t until the end of the month, however a decision will be made before then, one way or another.
The Herald reported on Sunday that the trust between Maguire and some of his players has eroded due to belief internally that Maguire isn’t transparent and conveys mixed messages.
It was also reported that halfback Luke Brooks has not enjoyed his time under the coach and was recently shopped to the Bulldogs by his management.
The Tigers were embarrassed 38-0 on Sunday by the hapless Bulldogs.Credit:Getty
The Tigers played like a team without regard for the future of the coach, coming into the game knowing full well the implications of their performance on Maguire’s tenure.
While they were missing a number of top-line players – including Adam Doueihi, James Tamou, Daine Laurie and Moses Mbye – they were made to look like a reserve grade team against a side that has struggled to score points for the past few seasons.
According to sources with knowledge of the situation, Maguire remained calm in the sheds after full-time and thanked the players who were moving on at the end of the year.
When asked in the post-match press conference if he was the right man for the job, Maguire said: “Ah, yep. Yep.”
“I know exactly where the team is going. The organisation knows where the team is going. We have to make sure we continue to be disciplined about what we’re trying to build here. Changing teams and changing pathways of clubs takes a little bit of time. It doesn’t mean you can’t get better performances than that on the park, I acknowledge that. But it’s about continually just sticking to the path of where we’re going with this group.
“People continually refer to 10 years (missing the finals), but it’s about the future and where we’re going. You saw a lot of youth out there. We had 12 blokes on the sideline, we will be a different team next year. We have the makings of what it takes to move forward in the competition and grow the team.”
Maguire has blamed the decisions of Ivan Cleary for his team’s failures during his three-year tenure. He now has an inferior success rate to Jason Taylor when he was sacked after three rounds in 2018.
Former Sharks premiership-winning coach Shane Flanagan is looking for a job but there doesn’t appear to be much appetite from the Tigers to consider him. Other options include Penrith assistant coach Cameron Ciraldo, former Cowboys coach Paul Green, ex-Sharks coach John Morris, St Helens coach Kristian Woolf and Catalans coach Steve McNamara.
Wayne Bennett is off contract but insists he is returning to live in Queensland next year.
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