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NRL: Five coaches that are feeling the heat

Article originally published on (27/07/22)

Three coaches have already bitten the bullet in the NRL this season and it looks as though it may not be long before the axe drops on number four as the pressure continues to mount.

The NRL is big business with everyone from the fans, the board of directors and the sponsors demanding success. So when things are not going according to plan it is usually the coach that pays the price.

Thankfully coaches in the NRL are generally given time to turn things around. But if they cannot then tough decisions have to be made.

In fairness the Wests Tigers stood by Michael Maguire for quite some time before deciding that a change was needed earlier this season.

The same can be said of Trent Barrett at the Canterbury Bulldogs even though he was only in charge for 34 games. He did only win five of them and he could have been axed much earlier.

Nathan Brown was the third coach to lose his job in 2022 after winning just 12 of the 37 games he coached.

Now everyone is wondering who is next? Will the axe fall again before the season is out? Let’s take a look at five coaches that are feeling the heat.

Justin Holbrook (Gold Coast Titans)

Many are shocked that Holbrook has lasted this long into the 2022 NRL season as the Titans sit second from bottom on the ladder with just three wins from 18 games.

The fall down the ladder is alarming to say the least. It looked as though progress was being made on the Gold Coast after they made finals in 2021.

They went out in the first round, but expectations were high heading into 2022 and another top-eight finish was the minimum requirement.

It has not worked out for a number of reasons, but the buck stops with the coach and Holbrook is the hot fancy to get the bullet next.

Adam O’Brien (Newcastle Knights)

The Knights are another side that have under-performed this season and will miss out on a place in the top eight.

They have won just five from 18 games this season and only the Titans and Tigers sit below them on the ladder.
In fairness they have been crippled by losing star players to injury, including star fullback Kalyn Ponga who has spent more time on the sidelines than on the pitch.

The one thing that could save O’Brien for now is the support of the board. CEO Phil Gardner has insisted that O’Brien is still the man to take the Knights forward.

Whether the curse of the dreaded vote of confidence strikes again, only time will tell.

Brad Arthur (Parramatta Eels)

This is a tricky one as Arthur’s tenure as coach of the Eels has to be seen as a successful one, but could it be time for a change?

Arthur is nine years into the job and despite plenty of appearances in finals, he has yet to deliver the premiership. 2022 was viewed as a great chance before a number of star players move on in 2023.

However following a disappointing season so far they sit seventh on the ladder and look set to miss out again.

Arthur is under contract until the end of 2024 and says he intends to see it out. There has also been talk that his management offered him to the Canterbury Bulldogs, who are on the look out for a new coach.

Anthony Griffin (St George Illawarra Dragons)

Dragons coach Griffin is also feeling the heat despite the fact they are still in with a shout of making the top eight.

Rumours are suggesting that all is not well behind the scenes. Following a recent 54-26 loss against the Broncos, reports claimed that the Dragons called a board meeting to discuss the situation.

Griffin is currently under contract until the end of the 2023 campaign but there is a chance he will not get to see it out.

Last week’s win over the Sea Eagles could ease the pressure for now.

Trent Robinson (Sydney Roosters)

Highly, highly unlikely that Robinson will be axed by the Roosters but he has to be feeling the heat a little as they face a battle to make finals.

The Roosters have had a very disappointing season. They sit eighth on the ladder but the Sea Eagles, Raiders and Dragons below them are also on 20 points.

Missing out of finals would be a disaster but Robinson is sure to keep his job. He is under contract until the end of 2028 for starters. But that is not to say the pressure is not on.

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