Richie Barnett on league

Opinion and analysis from former Kiwis captain Richie Barnett

Richie Barnett: Bluey deserved a much better run of luck

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Brian McClennan  was sacked as Warriors head coach on Tuesday, with two games left until the end of the 2012 regular season. Photo / Getty Images
Brian McClennan was sacked as Warriors head coach on Tuesday, with two games left until the end of the 2012 regular season. Photo / Getty Images

I don't have the perfect answer for the Warriors' situation, nor what should have happened with Brian McClennan, who was sacked as the coach this week. This is not a black-and-white deal.

But I do feel that McClennan deserves a better defence than he has generally been getting and that it needs to be reiterated that luck was not on his side. There was a rush to judgment and the tide of opinion seemed to sweep against the coach.

His first season in charge was always going to be tough, because it was almost certain that the Warriors would not match last year's effort in making the grand final.

McClennan may have made mistakes. Starting the off-season training three weeks late left the players short in preparation - a very big hole in the off-season.

The Warriors had problems converting good situations into points last year and, in response, the new coach probably put too much emphasis on attack at the expense of defence.

He made some debatable substitutions. The lack of resolve throughout the squad in recent weeks has been a concern.

But this season also showed that there is a very fine line between success and failure in what is an extremely tough professional competition and the Warriors had enormously bad luck in terms of injuries.

They had 600 or 700 worth of games ripped out of their side, and that is a very hard thing to deal with. The Perth game against Manly was the last straw - the 2011 champions' comeback win seemed to break the spirit.

The past three weeks have been quite awful. But what McClennan needed in his first year in charge was a level playing field, and the horrific injury run meant he didn't get that.

When you match that injury run against a series of close losses and consider that the disappointment of the past three weeks was a bad reaction to where the club had got to, then a different picture emerges.

I believe the new ownership team was worried about brand damage and Bluey became the scapegoat in an effort to inject fresh optimism.

On balance, I actually reckon he deserved his second year. There has been a media-inspired rush to deal with an apparent crisis by urging the owners to fling a lot of money about in the chase for a high-profile coach, but money is not the answer to everything.

The Ivan Cleary era showed that patience and building a culture can do the trick.

On a positive note, the Warriors are producing a variety of first-grade quality players from within and I am sure the club will make an important change next year to instil a tougher attitude in the young players. That will involve giving the youngsters spells with the Vulcans, who play in the New South Wales Cup, rather than having them play only for the Toyota Cup team.

The attention will now fall on caretaker first-grade coach Tony Iro and I've got to say that the idea that he needs to prove his worth in the final two NRL games is ridiculous.

Once again, this involves a hasty judgment. Iro is in the difficult position of taking over a side whose passion for the job has been on the wane. His first-grade coaching prospects deserve wider consideration than whatever happens over the final two rounds.

- NZ Herald

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