Opinion: Is Madge cooling off?
Wests Tigers coach Michael Maguire was on the chopping block as the club finished another poor season in 2022, finishing 13th with just eight wins out of 24 games. Across his career, Madge has built a reputation for being a hard taskmaster to the point it got him moved on from the South Sydney Rabbitohs just a few seasons after he led them to a premiership. His style of coaching hasn’t been embraced by everyone at his current club either. It’s well reported that club legend Benji Marshall didn’t take kindly to his halves rotations in 2020 nor did then teammate Josh Reynolds while Russell Packer barely wore a pair of footy boots that year. Heading into the 2022 season, it’s pretty obvious from the outside looking in that the drill sergeant regime is being wound back and Maguire is trying an approach more about concentrating on the bonding and relationships amongst the playing group. Very similar to that of which Tim Sheens did with the club back when the Wests Tigers won their only premiership in 2005 who just happens to be back at Concord now. It could well be the main reason for this. Rather than the usual sand dune sprints and military style training you see in summer from the Wests Tigers, the squad took a trip to Terrigal on the Central Coast and spent time, outside of training, lying on the beach and having a Lebanese barbecue cooked by Adam Doueihi and Alex Twal. Listen to our interview with Adam Doueihi on the WestsLife podcast now on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or Podbean. Now this week, the Wests Tigers sent the meme makers into overdrive by announcing not one, not two (you’ve heard this joke already I’m sure)…five captains for 2022. Adam Doueihi, Luke Brooks, Tyrone Peachey, Ken Maumalo and James Tamou. What was pretty well hidden among the outrage and headlines over this move is the fact that these players weren’t chosen by Madge, they were voted in by the playing group. Some may say Madge is letting the patients run the asylum, but it could also be the fact that the playing group now is almost entirely signed or re-signed under his tenure at the club. The playing group is now his. There should be no one left at the club who doesn’t want to play for him. So the trust has been built and solidified. While we definitely didn’t predict a repeat of 2005 on our recent season prediction pod (if you haven’t already, have a listen to it now on Apple, Spotify, Google Podcasts or Podbean now), perhaps Maguire guided by Tim Sheens can again bring something special out of a playing group written off as wooden spoon favourites. Though any NRL fan would admit seeing the NRL trophy being lifted by five players at once for the first time will be quite the sight to see.