Hard life for coaches

It might have taken until nearing the half-way stage of the engage Super League season but a head coach has parted company with his club after a run of poor form. The unfortunate individual was Peter Sharp, erstwhile coach of Hull FC, who left with his side second from bottom in the engage Super League table. The last straw for Hull was an away defeat at Harlequins.nnHull have been beset with injuries so far this season, and that is doubtless the reason for their poor form and position in the table. Should Hull have waited for some of their first-teamers to return from the treatment room before making a change of coach? You would have thought so, given that there is no danger of the club being relegated anymore, and the fact that Hull are almost guaranteed a franchise.nnShaun McRae, a former Hull coach himself, certainly thinks so. The current Salford coach enjoyed a rare experience as a coach when he was able to leave the East Yorkshire club on his own terms and more popular than ever. Granted his final game saw a shock play-off defeat by Wakefield but most people agreed that he had done a good job on Humberside.nnCoaches rarely get to leave a club on top; the chances are that, like Sharp, they will leave the club after a poor run of form or some other discrediting event. This even affects successful coaches. Ian Millward might have enjoyed many fans’ support but he still left Saints under a cloud; the less said about his time at Wigan the better. Coaches are, as the saying goes, hired to be fired.nnIt was once suggested that often coaches take too much of the blame when things go wrong, and perhaps too much credit when they go well. After all a coach could do everything right and be let down by his players; conversely he could employ a more hands-off approach and, provided the players were up to the job, enjoy a great deal of success.nnI don’t pretend to know anything about the science of coaching, so I might have it all wrong. In any case the coaches are of great importance: a successful coach can be loved and an unsuccessful one derided. No doubt it is the desire for success and the adoration that comes with it is the motivator for coaches at all levels of the game, because most of the time they perform a pretty thankless job.nnThe big question now is which coach will be next. The likes of Terry Matterson, Paul Cullen, Jon Sharp and Brian McDermott have been under pressure, but which will it be, if any? It will be interesting for us, stress-inducing for them.nnChambers decision the right onennCastleford Tigers have made the right decision in not signing Dwain Chambers after his four-week trial at The Jungle. While Chambers, much to his credit, genuinely put all his effort into becoming a rugby league player there was no way he was good enough to play Super League.nnChambers didn’t look bad against York reserves, but many of the simple things such as positional play eluded him. People who have played rugby all their lives take such things for granted and take them as second nature; if Chambers was to play at Super League level his lack of rugby league experience would be to the detriment of his team.nnIn some ways it’s good for the game that Chambers didn’t make the required standard. It shows that however great a sportsman you are – and Chambers is a great sportsman, notwithstanding his misdemeanours – you need a certain amount of skill to play rugby league that not everyone has.nnFocus needed on home-grown playersnnIn case you’ve been living under a rock it’s the European Cup (aka Champions League) final in Moscow tonight, when two of England’s biggest / richest clubs play for the biggest prize in European club soccer. An all-English final was almost inevitable given the dominance of English clubs this year and in previous years.nnIf anything underlines the importance of producing your own players it is this. An all-English final, three English clubs in the semi-finals and four in the quarter finals – but England fail to qualify for the European Championships. English clubs’ success has less to do with English talent as foreign investment, and while that might not matter to fans of Man Utd, Chelsea, Arsenal or Liverpool it matters a great deal to anyone who wanted to support England this season.nnI didn’t want to support England this season, but I can see the lesson for rugby league. We need to produce our own players rather than rely on Australians or New Zealanders if we want any success at the World Cup or in Test matches. Fortunately I think that is well known by clubs and the RFL and we can see more and more home grown players making their mark in the greatest game.nnKeep Your Eye On Rugby League

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