Off the Wall

The Men of League's selection of the five greatest coaches of all time does not really contain any surprises, nor does the selection of Wayne Bennett as the greatest of them all.

The top five chosen was Harry Bath, Bob Fulton, Phil Gould, Jack Gibson and Wayne Bennett.

They span something like 40 to 50 years so comparisons are not all that easy to make.

For example, Bob Fulton was an outstanding club, state and national coach, but he was arguably an even greater player. Jack Gibson excelled as a coach and coaching mentor.

Gus Gould is today better known as a commentator but he was a successful coach at club and state levels. Harry Bath was an outstanding player, here and in the UK. Ironically, both he and Wayne Bennett played some of their first football at Souths in Brisbane.

The choice of Wayne Bennett was in part probably due to his sheer longevity. He has been coaching continuously in the NSWRL/NRL for something like 24 years. That is a record I cannot see being ever broken!

These days some coaches are lucky to see out a couple of seasons, not a couple of decades!
Jack Gibson was the most influential coach in my time. He has an enormous, and generally beneficial, impact on the game.

And what is not widely appreciated today is that Jack was a genuine philanthropist. He was wealthy, but he gave most of his wealth away to rugby league and charitable causes.

But the way these awards are decided, the selection of Wayne Bennett came as no surprise.

Speaking about coaches, the success of Ivan Cleary this year largely slipped under the radar until recent weeks.

Mid season he signed with the Panthers for 2012...after the Warriors released him from the last year of his contract.

Unlike at least one other mid season coaching shift, there is no evidence the Cleary move did the Warriors any harm whatsoever.

Win or lose on Sunday night, many will believe Gus Gould pulled off one of the buys of the decade when he signed up Ivan Cleary.

Congratulations to Wayne Bennett on another award. Now for the real challenge - taking three different clubs to a premiership.