NRL: Sad end for McClennan

By Michael Brown

Departing Warriors coach Brian McClennan talks to the media . Photo / Getty Images
Departing Warriors coach Brian McClennan talks to the media . Photo / Getty Images

Every day when Brian McClennan got home his 10-year-old son would ask him if he was still Warriors coach. Last night, he could tell him he wasn't.

McClennan was sacked as Warriors coach last night after a run of six-straight defeats. It is a sad end for a coach who was in his dream job and who now might struggle to get back in the NRL.

There were many factors that worked against him, not least of all a horrific run of injuries that robbed him of many senior players, but he was also the victim of an ambitious new ownership structure headed by Owen Glenn and Eric Watson that has set the target of being the "best single sporting franchise in Australasia''.

Failure couldn't and wouldn't be tolerated. In the past an under-pressure coach might be given more time. Not now.

"I take all responsibility for the results this season,'' McClennan said. "I am the head coach and we didn't get across the stripe or stop teams from getting across enough times to win some close ones which would have helped our cause.''

The Warriors lost far too many close ones. They often built big leads, like the ones over Newcastle and Manly, only to let them slip. Confidence then evaporated and it resulted in "shameful'', as McClennan described them, defeats to Cronulla and North Queensland. Sunday's limp loss to Penrith in a dour game was the last straw.

"I could feel it coming,'' McClennan said of the decision to sack him.

"Before the Newcastle game [a month ago] we had the big announcements about what is going forward and the club. It's really exciting times with the investments going in and the new structures. We were up 18-0 and we let that one go. A bit of pressure went on from there and we just didn't come up with the results.

"I can understand the club's perspective. They are very determined to get good results - so was I but I haven't done good enough on this occasion. I hold my head up. I have had some good successes along the way and when I did I never walked around thinking I was some kind of genius. The same with this year. We have ended up with a failed run and I don't think I'm any fool either. It cuts both way.

"[This job] was like the final frontier. I had achieved what I wanted to everywhere else but obviously it didn't work out. The planets didn't align.''

McClennan admitted he made mistakes - one of his biggest regrets is he won't now be able to correct them - but many others need to take responsibility as well.

Injuries have hit hard but many players let him down and this was no better exemplified than in the 18-16 defeat to Penrith on Sunday when they knew McClennan was under considerable pressure.

The club were also looking to provide McClennan with more support, and held talks on Sunday with Kiwis coach Stephen Kearney about taking on a role as assistant coach, but that all came too late to save his job.

"Brian has picked up a lot of bad luck,'' chief executive Wayne Scurrah admitted.

"The players are no different from me. I know I could do more and I think every player needs to ask in their heart of hears whether there was anything more they could have done. There will be a lot saying, if I had done this, it would have helped.''

Scurrah said, however, the club needed to act now even though they have only two games left this season.

"We have to restore confidence and we have to give some opportunities for fresh ideas as well. We have to get on with finding a new coach. To wait for two games, when there's nothing at stake in terms of finals football is a waste of two weeks and ethically we wouldn't start to talk to new coaches without doing the right thing with Brian and reaching the agreement we reached.''

Tony Iro will take charge for the last two games but Scurrah said they will do "whatever it takes'' to find the best coach for 2013.

McClennan now needs to find a new job.

- APNZ

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