Wests Tigers are considering throwing a lifeline to Adam Elliott as the club prepares to make a call on embattled coach Michael Maguire in coming days.
The futures of Maguire and Elliott, both at a career crossroads for very different reasons, will become clearer this week. Elliott made a clean break with Canterbury, who were considering ripping up his contract with two years still remaining after his latest misdemeanour.
Instead, the parties came to an amicable parting, which will result in the backrower being paid his dues for the rest of the current financial league year and about $100,000 over the next two seasons. In return, the 26 year old will waive his right to take legal action against the Bulldogs.
Several clubs are likely considering making a play for the 26 year old now that he is a free agent, but none have the salary-cap space of the Tigers. The joint-venture outfit has more than a million to spend on players for 2022 and Maguire is said to be a fan of Elliott’s football.
However, the Tigers are in a holding pattern on the retention and recruitment front until Maguire’s future is resolved. The Kiwis mentor has two years remaining on his contract after a 13th placed finish, the low point coming in a 38-0 loss to the Bulldogs last weekend.
While there has been widespread speculation that Maguire is facing the axe, Tigers powerbrokers are mindful of the costs of paying him out and replacing him at a time when there isn’t a standout candidate for the position.
Adam Elliott is searching for a club after parting ways with the Bulldogs on Friday.Credit:NRL Photos
Captain James Tamou and fellow forward Luciano Leilua have come out in support of ‘Madge’ and those with knowledge of the situation have indicated he is now a strong chance of retaining his position.
Asked is sacking Maguire improves the club’s situation, Bulldogs supremo Phil Gould told the ‘Six Tackles with Gus’ podcast: “I don’t think so.
“I know Michael Maguire, I know how hard he works and how passionate he is about the job. Do I think their performances reflect his coaching ability? No, I don’t.
“We tend to point the finger at the coach rather than the players. I think their roster management has needed to be a lot better than it’s been.
“That started many years ago, Michael Maguire inherited an unenviable situation when he first went there …
“It all sours with what happened on the weekend, they got beaten 38-0 by the team running last. They did have a number of NRL players out … whilst it was a dismal performance, it’s not a reflection of the strength of their club at the moment.
“So it’s heightened all the talk around it.
“The pressure has built on the club and the coach.”
Tigers chairman Lee Hagipantelis defended the club’s decision to extend Maguire’s tenure last December and said a decision on his future will be made once a club review is completed this week.
“My dealings with Michael Maguire and [Tigers CEO] Justin Pascoe … there’s never any indication they are going to change the coach,” Gould said.
“Even after the game on the weekend, I basically just checked in with Michael and Justin because it was a bad result for them. I didn’t sense any indication they were going to break ranks and change that.
“I’m not sensing they are looking for a change of coach, but sometimes media pressure can sometimes put pressure on people in the organisation to say ‘Hang on, maybe we need to rethink’.
“If their intention all along was to keep Michael Maguire, they really need to hold their ranks and march through this.”
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