2 days ago
Paul Green's loyalty is killing the Cowboys - just ask Michael Maguire
It took the South Sydney Rabbitohs 43 long years to reclaim rugby league's crown on a night when Sam Burgess broke his cheekbone and then Canterbury-Bankstown hearts.
Rugby league's most successful club hadn't won the premiership since 1971. After years of torment and frustration, the Bunnies had finally done it.
Their coach at the time, Michael Maguire, still gets stopped in the street by South Sydney supporters - forever grateful to the man that helped hand the Rabbitohs the 2014 title.
So let's ask the question. How did Maguire end up being sacked by the very organisation he helped rebuild so soon after a grand final?
The answer is... loyalty. Maguire showed too much loyalty to his players. Why wouldn't he? It was his first premiership as a coach. South Sydney's first in 43 years. They went through everything together.
Just think of the names that tried and failed before him. Coaches like Jack Gibson, Ron Willey, Bob McCarthy, Johnny King, George Piggins, John O'Neill and John Lang. No premierships.
All those players that slogged through the winter chill at Redfern Oval only to get beaten up time after time every season. The leaders like Mario Fenech, Craig Coleman, Paul Sait, Roy Asotasi and Sean Garlick who never got to hold the trophy aloft.
Then, all of a sudden, the hard work pays off. The bounce of the ball goes your way and before you know it, the glory (glory) is achieved.
Little wonder Maguire stayed loyal. Even when the losses piled up post-premiership, Maguire stuck by his team.
It cost him his job.
Despite recently re-signing with the club, North Queensland Cowboys coach Paul Green is facing a similar hangover with his 2015 premiership roster. Serious questions are being asked of the team from Townsville who have started the season disastrously at 2-6 following another shock home loss to the under-performing Canberra on Saturday night.
"I think if you look across the park we just haven't found our rhythm as a team for long enough periods yet," Green lamented after the 18-8 loss.
"We're good in patches but again tonight we started the second half with 12-from-13 completions but then finished the half one-from-seven.
"And they (Raiders) were just clinging on and we got plenty of opportunities in that second half but we just couldn't throw the knockout punch."
Their fairytale run to the 2017 grand final, without Johnathan Thurston, only glossed over roster issues at the Cowboys.
Green has stayed loyal for too long.
Thurston's shoulder is stuffed but the iconic half will get to continue his farewell tour despite a serious lack of form. Warhorse Matt Scott is doing his best but he's on his last legs too.
The Cowboys look tired. They look old. They look like a side that won a grand final four years ago.
Why wouldn't Green stay loyal?
For twenty years the Cowboys chipped away. Coaches came and went: Graham Murray, Tim Sheens, Neil Henry, Graham Lowe and Grant Bell. Captains retired without any silverware: Travis Norton, Aaron Payne, Paul Bowman, Ian Roberts, Laurie Spina and Steve Walters. Hundreds of players.
Can you blame Green for being loyal to the players that won the Cowboys - and Green - a maiden title?
Antonio Winterstein, Scott Bolton, Justin O'Neill, Lachlan Coote and Kane Linnett specifically have been great servants for North Queensland for a long time but rugby league stops for nobody. Granted Linnett is currently sidelined but surely it's time for a freshen up.
Green has a shiny new contract and a bag full of cash to go with it.
Now he needs to earn it.