Only four NRL clubs have avoided a change of head coach over the past two years and newly installed Penrith mentor Anthony Griffin says that’s just the way rugby league is.
Canterbury, the Sydney Roosters, Melbourne and South Sydney are the only clubs not to endure a coaching makeover since the end of the 2013 season.
The Roosters, Storm and Souths have won premierships in the past three years, while Des Hasler has led the Bulldogs to two grand finals over that period.
The top coaching role in the NRL’s 16 clubs has changed 13 times since the Roosters claimed the 2013 premiership. That figure moves to 16 spins of the coaching merry-go-round when you include Cronulla’s Shane Flanagan’s suspension last year over governance issues.
It is an incredible attrition rate and Ivan Cleary became the latest victim earlier this week when he was axed by Panthers supremo Phil Gould for Griffin.
It was this time last year Griffin was on the other side of that ledger when he was let go by Brisbane for supercoach Wayne Bennett’s return to Red Hill.
Griffin spent four years with the Broncos and said he had come to understand the “brutal” nature of top-flight coaching.
“I would prefer it is not so cutthroat. If you asked every coach, they would say that but it is what it is,” Griffin said.
“It is professional sport and it is a very brutal business. If you want to be in the arena, which I do, you understand they are the rules.
“A lot of people don’t understand that, people ask you why you want to coach but that is just the way business is with rugby league now. Everyone wants success and unfortunately the coach is under the spotlight.”
Gould said he cut Cleary because he was burnt out but had no doubts the former first-grade three-quarter, who coached the Warriors to the 2011 grand final, would be back in the NRL coaching caper soon enough.
Griffin said any sacked coach needed to hang tough.
“I felt the other side of it (coaching appointments) 12 months ago and the important thing as a coach, if you do want to coach, you stay resilient, you believe in yourself and you know that there is another job that is going to come around,” Griffin said.
CHANGES IN THE HEAD COACHING ROLE AT NRL CLUBS OVER THE LAST TWO YEARS:
Anthony Griffin replaced by Wayne Bennett
David Furner replaced by Ricky Stuart
* NORTH QUEENSLAND:
Neil Henry replaced by Paul Green
* GOLD COAST:
John Cartwright replaced by Henry
Geoff Toovey sacked for Trent Barrett
Rick Stone appointed successor to Bennett before being sacked mid-season, with Danny Buderus an interim replacement. Nathan Brown will coach the Knights in 2016
Brad Arthur appointed to replace Stuart
Ivan Cleary sacked and replaced by Griffin
Shane Flanagan suspended for the 2014 season over governance issues, with assistant Peter Sharp filling the role before stepping down in July. James Shepherd coached the Sharks for the remainder of the season
* ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA:
Steve Price sacked and replaced in an interim capacity by Paul McGregor before the former Kangaroo was appointed full-time ahead of the 2015 season
Matthew Elliott sacked early in 2014. Andrew McFadden was appointed as acting head coach before signing a three-year deal with the club
* WESTS TIGERS:
Mick Potter replaced by Jason Taylor