There are some (this scribe included) who are of the view that the Knights’ roster is so poor, that coach Nathan Brown deserves to see out his tenure, regardless of how embarrassingly bad they’ve been since his arrival. Apparently you can’t count Knights chairperson Brian McGuigan among those people.
According to the Newcastle Herald, McGuigan has publically put the Knights coach on notice, declaring their hammering at the hands of the Tigers “unacceptable”, and adding that Brown has “got to carry the can”.
“After a period of grace, unless things are improving, we have to do something about it,” McGuigan said. “If things are out of control, then the board has to make decisions about the direction we’re taking.”
“He’s the man that’s got to carry the can… it’s just not good enough. The community expects better.”
“Yesterday I lost faith, and I’m now expressing it openly and frankly, because the community expects more of us.”
While we’d agree that the Knights are awful (nobody in their right mind would argue with that), we wouldn’t agree that things aren’t improving, and even less that Brown should “carry the can”.
Besides the obvious measure, results – in which their 2 wins are an improvement, as sad as that may be – our own VOA Ratings show a dramatic improvement from 2016, in which they ranked dead last in both categories (they’re still toward the bottom, but they’ve improved by around 60% in both categories).
Secondly, as rubbish as the Knights still are, why is Brown responsible for the rabble of ordinary footballers he’s been forced to work with? The decline in the playing squad didn’t start with the arrival of Brown; it’s been entirely overseen by CEO Matt Gidley, who’s been in charge since June 2011.
Under Gidley’s watch, the number of players they’ve let go who have gone on to become successful at other clubs is staggering. They include: Zane Tetevano, Joey Leilua, Joseph Tapine, Tyrone Roberts, Akuila Uate, Korbin Sims, and now you can add Dane Gagai to the list. And that’s without counting the players who were already household names before arriving in the Hunter, like Darius Boyd and Beau Scott. The buck for the Knights’ inability to retain decent talent shouldn’t stop with Brown – it should stop with Gidley.
In any case, it ultimately may not matter. Wests Group are in the process of buying the Knights from the NRL, and in the event that the sale goes through, Brown’s future would then be decided by that board instead.
And they may decide to clean them out from the top.