Clive Churchill, Bob Fulton, Norm Provan and Trent Robinson?
The Sydney Roosters coach has a chance to put his name alongside some legends of the game should he guide his side to a third straight NRL minor premiership this season.
Robinson has quietly amassed one of the most impressive coaching resumes in his first three seasons as an NRL head coach with the Roosters.
Statistics show he has the best winning percentage of any coach in the history of the competition with 50-plus games.
Should the Roosters – who sit two points behind leaders Brisbane and North Queensland – go on to claim the J.J. Giltinan Shield this year, Robinson would join an elite club of coaches.
Craig Bellamy took Melbourne to three consecutive No.1 finishes in 2006-08 but the club was stripped of all three minor premierships over their salary cap scandal.
Fulton was the last to achieve the feat, with his beloved Manly in 1995-97. However, the Sea Eagles’ 1997 win was in the ARL competition in a year in which the game was split between two competitions because of the Super League war.
Fulton’s fellow Immortal, Churchill, did it with South Sydney in 1968-70, a period in which they won two premierships and made another grand final.
The last coach to finish top in his first three years as a clipboard holder was Provan after he took over St George as captain-coach in 1962.
Provan took the Red V to four straight minor premierships – a feat only equalled by dual international and fellow Dragon Ken Kearney in 1957-60.
While minor premierships no longer carry the importance they once did, it is indicative of the impact Robinson has had since taking over at Moore Park, according to Sydney Roosters chief executive Brian Canavan.
“In the past two years we’ve won two minor premierships, two club championships and we’re cycling up the top again,” Canavan said.
“We’re not up top yet and we’ve got four games to go. You don’t play for those things but they’re a very direct benchmark measure for a successful team.”
Robinson also has the best winning percentage of all Australian top level rugby league coaches to have been at the helm for 50 games or more.
Since 2013 he has won 52 of 74 games for a 70.3 per cent winning record.
The next best on that list is Provan (124 wins from 181 games at 68.5 per cent).
Provan also had the advantage of taking over the greatest side in the history of the game – the Dragons during their 11 straight premiership run – when they were at the height of their powers.
Robinson has transformed the Roosters from a lower table side – who finished 13th in 2012 – and assembled the strongest squad in the competition.
He won a premiership in his first year, fell a game short of the grand final last year. The Roosters currently sit in third spot on the NRL ladder with round rounds to play.
Critics would argue that Robinson’s success has come on the back of the Roosters’ astute recruitment which netted them the likes of Sonny Bill Williams and James Maloney in his first year at the club.
However Canavan countered that Robinson was one of the keys to luring those players to the Tricolours.
“Robbo was an important part in that recruitment of Sonny-Bill,” Canavan said.
“(Blake Ferguson) was also very impressed with him when he joined us.
“Because he’s relatively fresh in the club, it’s more so the players are wanting to stay than wanting to come … In the future players will want to join our club because of Trent Robinson.
“Players like Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Shaun Kenny-Dowall, they stayed because they’re very, very comfortable playing under Robbo. They could have gone elsewhere.”
Robinson is contracted to the Roosters until the end of 2017 and Canavan said they hoped to have him at the club beyond his current deal.
“We don’t envisage searching for another head coach in the near future,” Canavan said.
Australian first grade rugby league coaches with the best winning percentage with over 50 games experience:
* Trent Robinson, 74 games, 52 wins, 70.3 per cent
* Norm Provan, 181 games, 124 wins, 68.5 per cent
* Jack Fitzgerald, 80 games, 53 wins, 66.3 per cent
* Michael Maguire, 100 games, 66 wins, 66 per cent
* Craig Bellamy, 335 games, 221 wins, 66 per cent
* Charlie Lynch, 165 games, 107 wins, 64.8 per cent
* Ray Norman, 51 games, 33 wins, 64.7 per cent
* Bob Fulton, 405 games, 261 wins, 64.4 per cent
* Jeff Smith, 59 games, 38 wins, 64.4 per cent
* Jim Craig, 81 games, 52 wins, 64.2 per cent
(Statistics: Fox Sports Stats)