Michael Burgess is a sports writer for the Herald on Sunday.

League: What McFadden needs to save his job

Warriors coach Andrew McFadden. Photo / Doug Sherring.
Warriors coach Andrew McFadden. Photo / Doug Sherring.

Warriors coach Andrew McFadden has 15 weeks to save his job. It is understood McFadden is likely to be replaced if the club fail to make this year's top-eight playoffs, although there is a chance of a reprieve if the team miss September football but show considerable improvement and potential over the coming weeks.

The club's hierarchy - including owner Eric Watson, managing director Jim Doyle and the board - have been extremely loyal to McFadden.

Doyle resisted calls to make changes after the disastrous end to last season, when the team lost eight matches in succession. Watson and Doyle were also steadfast in their backing of the head coach during the difficult start to this campaign, as the club dropped their first three games.

But the Herald on Sunday understands their patience will run only so far. Sources close to the club indicated a place in the top eight has been set as the minimum standard, and failure to reach that target will have consequences for the coaching team.

The club want stability, recognising that the numerous changes at the top have been detrimental over their history. But if the coach can't get the best of the playing group - even if there are numerous factors in the equation - they will have no choice.

It's not completely black and white, however.

The No1 marker will be results, but how the team perform will also be taken into consideration.

If the Warriors miss the finals but are involved in a series of close, credible matches against the top sides, there may be a second chance for McFadden.

But if the team limp out of contention in August, as they have done in three of the past four seasons, it will be hard to argue for McFadden's retention.

It's a logical position.

Doyle has previously backed McFadden. World Cup-winning All Blacks coach Sir Graham Henry, who has joined the club for a month in an advisory role to support McFadden, recently said McFadden had the potential to be "world-class".

McFadden has made significant changes to the way the club is run and brought a harder edge to the team, particularly in the way they train and prepare.

He has strengthened the coaching staff and established better pathways from the under-20s to NSW Cup and first grade.

McFadden is only the fourth Warriors coach to achieve more than 20 victories (23 wins) and only three coaches (John Monie, Daniel Anderson and Ivan Cleary) have had a longer tenure than his 54 matches in charge.

But the team's defence remains an issue, as does consistency, and McFadden has yet to fix on his best 17 players. After an encouraging finish to 2014 and start to 2015, the team have won just four of their last 19 matches.

The Warriors remain in contention for a playoffs spot, but it won't be easy.

Assuming the Broncos, Cowboys, Storm, Sharks, Bulldogs and Panthers will sew up six places, that realistically leaves the Warriors jostling with the Rabbitohs, Dragons, Raiders, Sea Eagles and possibly the Eels for the final two spots.

- Herald on Sunday

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