NRL coach merry-go-round in full swing
It's been a helluva season for hanging on to a rugby league coaching job - but also an opportune year for finding one.
Anthony Seibold became the fifth coach in a 16-team competition to exit a club on Tuesday after being sacked by the Broncos.
Seibold joined Stephen Kearney (Warriors), Paul Green (Cowboys), Dean Pay (Bulldogs) and Paul McGregor (Dragons) in failing to last it through the COVID-impacted season.
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The Bulldogs and Warriors moved quickly in announcing their replacements, locking in Trent Barrett and Nathan Brown respectively.
That still leaves three NRL jobs up for grabs, but one more high-profile position is also likely to become vacant because Queensland State of Origin mentor Kevin Walters is firming to replace Seibold at the Broncos.
And that could lead to an unexpected reunion. Here's where we stand on Wednesday morning.
BENNETT TO LEAD MAROONS?
He boasts five State of Origin titles as coach, but Wayne Bennett has not been in charge of Queensland in over 17 years. The last time he was tasked with leading the Maroons, Kalyn Ponga was five years old.
However, the veteran coach is reportedly on the verge of a shock reunion, and could be called upon to help prevent the Blues from snaring three consecutive series wins.
According to The Sydney Morning Herald, Bennett could replace Kevin Walters as the State of Origin coach in the coming days, but it all depends on the struggling Broncos.
Walters is shaping as a potential successor for Anthony Seibold as Brisbane coach, and if the Broncos opt for the club hero to take over as head coach, it will leave a vacant spot at the Maroons.
South Sydney officials would not intervene if Bennett is called upon by Queensland Rugby League, according to the report.
"Kevin Walters is contracted until the end of 2021, and if he is coach of Queensland we would want 100 per cent out of him," QRL chairman Bruce Hatcher told the Sydney Morning Herald.
"We don't want a half-hearted attempt and then we get beaten 30 or 40-0 because we haven't treated it seriously. If Kevvie can be 100 per cent committed to Origin this year than we see no reason why he couldn't coach Queensland if we've got him fully committed to us and not the Broncos.
"Our responsibility is to do the best for Queensland and State of Origin, not the Broncos. We can't and won't be compromised on that. There can be no blurring of responsibility. There can be no distractions."
GREEN A CONTENDER AT RED HILL
Although Walters has been tipped as the favourite to take over at Red Hill, rugby league great Peter Sterling believes Paul Green is the better candidate.
While Walters has never served as an NRL head coach, Green led the North Queensland Cowboys to an NRL premiership in 2015, which bodes well for the 47-year-old.
"They've both had success as coaches but Kevin's is with State of Origin, which is three games a year and it's a completely different preparation and completely different requirements than coaching a club week-in, week-out, and all of the extras that do come with that.
"With Paul Green coming in, you do know that you're signing a premiership-winning coach, so that's got to be an attraction in itself. He is also a former Broncos player.
"But Kevin Walters, he's been looking for a gig for a long, long time. There will be a push from the old boys."
The Cowboys won 87 NRL matches under Green before he parted ways with the struggling club earlier this season.
PAYTEN TO COWBOYS NOT A CERTAINTY
Having rejected a job with the New Zealand Warriors, Todd Payten seemed destined to become the new head coach of the North Queensland Cowboys.
However, The Australian's Brent Read has suggested England coach Shaun Wane is a leading contender to replace Paul Green.
Speaking to Fox League's NRL 360 on Tuesday evening, Read argued Payten's stellar work with the Warriors during the chaotic 2020 season may not be enough to secure the coveted position with North Queensland.
"Apparently (Wane) interviewed very well, he's got some runs on the board with Wigan and England. Apparently he impressed the Warriors too when he spoke to them," Read said.
"It would be a risky move by the Cowboys to appoint him.
"Todd Payten can't do anymore than he's doing now with the Warriors. He's doing an amazing job. I think it's pretty close, it's very tight up there."
But The Daily Telegraph's Paul Crawley quickly responded: "Todd Payten couldn't have done more to push his claims.
"He's been outstanding I love what he's done with the Warriors but taking on a role full time in a town like that … One thing which stuck out to me was that Johnathan Thurston spoke about who should be the next coach and he said they need an experienced coach.
"And out of the contenders who have been mentioned so far, John Cartwright seems to have the temperament that will probably suit that down to the ground."
GRIFFIN TIPPED FOR DRAGONS JOB
St George Illawarra five-eighth Corey Norman has called for former Brisbane coach Anthony Griffin to become the next head coach of the Dragons.
Having led the Broncos to three finals series in four seasons, Griffin is reportedly the favourite to take over at the Dragons in 2021 following Paul McGregor's departure earlier this month.
That's music to the ears of Norman, who built a strong rapport with Griffin during his tenure at Brisbane in the under 20s and NRL ranks.
"I know what he is like and what sort of bloke he is," Norman said, who played 62 NRL games for the Broncos between 2010 and 2013.
"I think that is up to the board and whoever to decide on that job, so we'll just worry about ourselves down here.
"But (Griffin) is a good coach. I haven't had him for a while, but I got along with him well."
The Sydney Morning Herald reported interim Dragons coach Dean Young has personally recommended Griffin to the Dragons, while star halfback Ben Hunt has also voiced his support this week.
- With NCA Newswire
Originally published as NRL coach merry-go-round in full swing