League: Two games to save his job

By James Hooper

Eels directors have discussed Stephen Kearney's future as coach. Photo / Getty Images
Eels directors have discussed Stephen Kearney's future as coach. Photo / Getty Images

The Parramatta Eels board have discussed terminating the final year of coach Steve Kearney's contract if he can't turn things around at the embattled club in two weeks.

The Sunday Telegraph has revealed Eels directors will consider telling Kearney his services will not be required next season if Parramatta lose their next two games - to Cronulla tomorrow night and South Sydney. Officials continue to debate whether to go in a new direction in 2013 by appointing Jason Taylor or Blues coach Ricky Stuart.

Kearney fronted a board meeting at Parramatta Leagues Club last Tuesday, where the coach provided his reasoning about why the Eels remain anchored to the bottom of the ladder.

"Steve comes to all the board meetings to do a review of month-to-month where we're at. He certainly wasn't hauled before the board," Eels chief executive Bob Bentley said.

Questioned about whether directors had discussed replacing Kearney if results did not improve, Bentley said: "To be honest, that's something any board would do in a business environment. My view of it is if you're running a business ... in our case the leagues club is going really well from a financial point of view but the footy club's not going so well on the park. So they'll continue to have those sort of thoughts and views and discussions, which is normal.

"But there hasn't been any sort of discussion beyond the end of the year. At this stage [Kearney's] contracted until the end of next year and things won't change unless the board make some decisions otherwise."

As revealed last month, Eels chairman Roy Spagnolo was poised to parachute Taylor in as a coaching director until Kearney hit the idea on the head. Since then, Parramatta directors have repeatedly offered Kearney any coaching assistance he needs, including ex-Kiwi test coach Graham Lowe. But he has rejected all offers.

If results fail to improve, Kearney is expected to be shown the door amid talk he has lost some of the players.

Since taking the helm in October 2010, he has compiled the worst coaching record at Parramatta in 42 seasons, with seven wins from 35 games.

On the recruitment front, the Eels have missed out on 21 stars, including Tony Williams, Issac Luke, Beau Scott, Bronson Harrison, Ryan Hinchcliffe and Jason Taumalolo, in two seasons.

Of the Eels top 25 roster, Kearney has either signed or re-signed 18 players so must accept accountability for the poor results.

"Steve's had to deal with some on- and off-field issues in his second year as head coach here and it hasn't been easy for anyone," Bentley said. "The board deserve a fair bit of credit for providing him with all the resources to get this current team to perform. They haven't denied him anything and we'll continue to offer him any resource he requires."

- Herald on Sunday

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