NRL 360: Paul Kent writes that Parramatta Eels are taking the wrong approach to a new coach


PARRAMATTA are going about their business for a new NRL coach all wrong. The Eels are talking tough when they should be talking sense.

The lesson for how to handle it professionally and intelligently was illustrated a fortnight ago when the AFL’s Melbourne Demons, perennial failures, announced former Swans premiership winner Paul Roos as their new coach.

Roos has a two-year deal with a one-year extension.

Not a lot of time to bring a club drenched in failure a premiership, you’d think.

Only that is not Roos’s job.

Roos was not hailed as a saviour brought in to bring the Demons a premiership. The Demons know it is too big a job to happen in three years.

Importantly, though, the club showed the discipline to refrain from giving their fans the first cheap thrill – fans are nothing if not optimists – and talking up Roos’s appointment as though a premiership is just around the corner.

Roos’s job is not about getting the Demons glory, but instilling structure and standards, and finding a direction to take the long road back.

Already Roos will start work on a succession plan for the next coach to build on what he puts in place.

The Demons finally realised the depth of the hole they were in. Parramatta have yet to.

The Eels fall into the trick of talking premierships with every new coach which, for those keeping tally, is quite often of late. The Eels’ problems are as significant as the Demons, and whether its Neil Henry, Jason Taylor or Jack Gibson reincarnated, the next coach will not be bringing a premiership to the Eels, at least in the duration of their first contract.

Like Roos at Melbourne, the Eels need to talk down a return to the glory days and sell it to the fans for what it is, a long road back from the brink of oblivion.

The difference between the Demons and the Eels is the volatility of the board, where cheap points are often taken through the media and it has been some time since a board was returned uncontested.

For all the criticism of Ricky Stuart after he sacked 12 players mid-season, it needed to be done and the incoming coach will be silently thanking him when he takes a look at the roster.

He’ll also have a mind to take out the axe himself if he is any judge of football talent, knowing it is going to be a long, long process to repair the ills of previous management.


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