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

Chris Rattue: Doyle can't ignore McFadden's culpability

No, Warriors CEO Jim Doyle can't get away with that old line.

Like the bosses of all failing footy clubs, Doyle is in a tricky situation when it comes to the inevitable speculation around the future of the coach, in this case Andrew McFadden.

For club leaders like Doyle, it's a case of damned if you do, damned if you don't and damned at all points in between. Offer no comment at all, and the media and fans will read between those non-existent lines as well.

But silence might be Doyle's best option because he is backing himself into a corner defending a coach who is in strife if the Warriors don't quickly escape the depths they sunk to against Manly. They had been unconvincing even in victory but the Manly game suggested serious problems lie within.

Concentrating the blame on the players - as Doyle has done - won't wash.

McFadden is in the gun, make no mistake about that. And he deserves to be. And what's more, McFadden - who played 100 NRL games - will know he deserves to be.

Doyle reckoned that "Cappy [McFadden] didn't drop balls and he didn't miss tackles and therefore our players need to be more and more accountable".

It's a snazzy line, and certainly not original. But it's only a line.

Coaches are responsible for creating the environment which determines how players perform. Absolutely. And what stands out about the Warriors right now is that the majority of players are below their best.

The Warriors folded against the Sea Eagles' efficiency. The players look confused about their roles, and it's that confusion which certainly does lead to dropped passes and missed tackles. The players have responsibility - Shaun Johnson, for instance, has had more than enough time to get beyond the learning phase and quite frankly he stinks as a leader in a controlling position and is inconsistent as a player. But to in any way remove the coach from the evaluation is a nonsense.

The fans and media have actually been quite patient and forgiving. Since the miracle try against Melbourne at Mt Smart last year, they've had two wins (against struggling clubs) to celebrate out of 14 games. No coach can or should escape the blowtorch with a record like that.

How much time does a coach get? Can't answer that, but the criticism can still go on. The Warriors' history of coaching changes doesn't protect McFadden from the barbs or the sack.

Tough assignment
Speaking of coaches...Allister Coetzee has taken on one of the toughest jobs in international sport. The political pressure on a Springboks coach is immense, and Coetzee has been tasked with putting a team together for the next World Cup that has 50 per cent players of colour. He is stepping into a minefield and despite a respectable record with the Stormers, his appointment has received a lukewarm reaction judging by a couple of press comments.

The advantage Coetzee has however is that he embraces the transformation concept, says it can make South African rugby stronger, and he had some success in this area during his long tenure at the Stormers. I wish him well on a number of levels, including the desperate need and complex business of making South Africa a much fairer society. Apart from that New Zealand and world rugby is all the better if South African rugby is strong, and unfortunately it shows the odd sign of faltering.

- NZ Herald

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