With Tim Sheens’ coaching career at Wests Tigers on life support, former board member Ben Elias revealed the club could have had Ricky Stuart take over for 2012.
Sheens survived the first board meeting over his future, but it appears increasingly unlikely that he will be in charge by Monday night.
He will face another board meeting where his performance and future will be discussed on Monday, and Elias suggested on Sunday it was time for Sheens to move on and called on the veteran mentor to step down “for his own credibility”.
Elias revealed that when Sheens was deciding whether to re-sign with the Tigers last year or take up a lucrative offer from Penrith, the club had a contingency plan in place to recruit then-NSW coach Stuart, who will coach Parramatta in 2013, to replace him.
“At the time when we re-signed him it was very controversial,” the Balmain legend told ABC Radio’s Grandstand.
“We had another coach in the shadows ready to go.
“Ricky Stuart was going to coach the Tigers if (Sheens) hadn’t signed.
“He decided to coach and we came to an agreement of three years.
“That situation, obviously, we continued for the next 12 months and here we are today.”
How it has unravelled so quickly is unclear, although an underwhelming performance in 2012 that resulted in the Tigers missing the finals for the seventh time under Sheens’ reign seems the tipping point.
“Unfortunately at the moment we’ve missed out on the top eight and in our position as such a highly contended side to win the premiership this year we’ve not even made the top eight,” Elias said.
“At the end of the day I think the coach is always going to be accountable for those results.
“… I think the present Wests Tigers board, the Balmain and the Wests contingent are very, very clearly of the opinion that results aren’t good enough and it’s time to move on.”
Sheens has consistently been linked with the Warriors coaching role vacated by Brian McClennan late this year, but there have been no concrete discussions between either party to date.
Elias said it would be a win-win situation to have Sheens link with the Warriors, ending his 10-year stay at the Tigers.
“There would be no better person … to go to the Warriors and do a job over there they haven’t done – that is to win a premiership,” Elias said.
“He would be absolutely ideal.
“He continues his coaching (past) the age of 61 … and (it is good for) the Tigers because we offset a lot of the dollars that would have been required to pay him on his exit of the Tigers coaching role for the next two years.
“… I think for his own credibility and his own self esteem he should amicably work (with) the Tigers (to) come to a position with him to leave with credibility.”
Elias’ comments capped off a dramatic day at camp Concord where it was also revealed that skipper Robbie Farah was being courted by rivals Parramatta, while star five-eighth Benji Marshall’s future at the club is also far from settled.