Chris Rattue is a sports columnist for the New Zealand Herald.

Chris Rattue: McFadden's the man for Warriors job

Coaching appointments are a gamble, but the odds on this stand-in are looking good.

There is a definite sense interim coach Andrew McFadden is putting steel into the 
Warriors. Photo / Getty Images
There is a definite sense interim coach Andrew McFadden is putting steel into the Warriors. Photo / Getty Images

The evidence is not overwhelming, but a strong hunch says the Warriors have enough already to reach a positive verdict on their "interim" coach Andrew McFadden.

The thrilling victory over the Melbourne Storm will live long in McFadden's memory, being his first success as a head coach. One win out of three is hardly club or career-changing stuff, but the way the Warriors have responded to a crisis under hastily promoted assistant McFadden is encouraging to say the least.

Coaching appointments are never a sure thing. Even the greatest English club football manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, got it wrong with his Manchester United successor, David Moyes.

Wayne Bennett, the revered Broncos boss who then guided the Dragons to a title, is struggling at Newcastle.

Craig Bellamy - the Warriors' initial super coach target before Matthew Elliott was appointed - is having problems at Melbourne.

Tim Sheens, the NRL veteran, was a maestro at Canberra but couldn't get the Cowboys out of a trot and had an up-and-down time at the Tigers.

Coaching is not an exact science, and nor is appointing one.

In a classic paper-rock-scissors situation, the erratic Warriors often cause the normally immaculate Melbourne problems, and did so again. McFadden has been in charge for only three games, but there is a definite sense he is putting steel into their work as he set out to do. The desperation defence in Melbourne was excellent.

Luring a big name or established coach to Auckland - should one actually be available - is not the only possible route to success. Uncovering the next big thing, a rookie on the rise, is a legitimate approach. In this case, there is a candidate already performing well enough on the Warriors' doorstep.

The players appear to respond to McFadden, described as a straight talker. The 36-year-old has served a useful coaching apprenticeship in the NRL and Super League.

McFadden has the type of history that often produces the best coaches. He had a decent first grade career, although like many top coaches he was not in the extreme-elite category. Conversely, the greatest of players - Wally Lewis and Mark Graham spring to mind - do not succeed in the coaching arena.

There's no hard and fast rule on this, but a lingering fire in the belly after retiring as a player serves a coach well.

Even the finest of coaches have to start somewhere. Just as coaches seek players with the raw material to mould, clubs can have faith that a rookie coach has the basic goods.

The Warriors' two grand final coaches, Daniel Anderson and Ivan Cleary, were given their NRL first grade breaks at the club. Job interviews and box-ticking are all the rage these days, but there's nothing wrong with letting instincts have a say.

There is something about McFadden which says he has the right stuff, but it will be tougher to deliver on that if the club indulges in one of its public coaching hunts. Time to drop the "interim", sort out a head coaching contract and let the man get on with it.

- NZ Herald

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Chris Rattue is a sports columnist for the New Zealand Herald.

Chris Rattue writes about a wide range of sports for the New Zealand Herald. He has covered numerous sporting events for the Herald including Rugby World Cups and the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

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