Balmain legends Benny Elias and Steve Roach have slammed the lack of leadership among the Wests Tigers’ playing group at the moment.
The Tigers have struggled this season but remain in the hunt for finals, needing to win at least three out of the last four games of the season to have any chance of securing a spot in the top eight.
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A new documentary series produced by Fox Sports and Kayo — Wild Wests: Tales from Tiger Town — has shed new light on the Tigers tumultuous season with fly-on-the-wall footage in the Tigers’ dressing room and coach’s box.
And after the second episode aired on Monday night, featuring a string of mid-season losses and a sole win over St George Illawarra, experts have noticed a glaring issue with the Tigers.
Coach Michael ‘Madge’ Maguire is constantly seen trying to rev up his players with motivational speeches in the sheds before the game and at halftime.
More often than not, each match ends with him tearing shreds off his troops for their lacklustre performances and for showing a lack of intent and determination on the field.
But Elias, who was part of the legendary Balmain Tigers side in the 1980s and early 1990s, believes more leadership should be coming from the players instead of the coach.
“On game day, I’m a little bit surprised at how much the coach needs to speak because I think you do all your speaking and hard work Monday to Friday and on match day, you turn up and you really don’t need any more,” he told Fox League’s NRL 360.
“To see him go down and use the microphone so often has really surprised me because as a player, all I need is my mate Blocker (Roach) or Junior (Wayne Pearce) or Siro (Paul Sironen) or my teammates whisper: ‘BE I’m going to be on your left or right hand side, my shoulder’s no good, please protect me’ and that was it.
“The speeches at halftime or before the game — if you’re not prepared and you need to be motivated, you’re in trouble.
“The way Madge the coach talks, is the way the players should be feeling and believing and acting.
“He’s the one that has the passion. He’s the one that’s ready to go out on the paddock and rip shreds off the opposition.
“That is the impact of the coach, but it should really be the player having that attitude.
“I was fortunate to be coached by some great coaches — Gus Gould, Warren Ryan, Bob Fulton, Jack Gibson — they never screamed.”
NRL 360 host Paul Kent agreed the Tigers are desperate for a player to take responsibility and take some of the burden off Maguire’s shoulders.
“Michael Maguire is the lone voice in that dressing room because they’re crying out for leaders, for blokes to stand up and be men and commit themselves,” he said.
Roach said in his playing days, he received feedback best when it came from a teammate, but the Tigers are lacking a leader within the playing group.
“When I was playing … honestly, I didn’t hear anything the coach said at halftime,” he said.
“Yelling and screaming, I’m telling you, it doesn’t work.
“You need leaders. James Tamou — at the back end of his career, I hear him in the media saying, ‘I’m going to get in there and tell them what to do’, but the poor bloke didn’t get to do it (in the win against the Bulldogs).
“He didn’t play in the first half, he played five or six minutes in the second half.
“So if that’s your leader and that’s the person leading the way — trying to tell you what we should be doing next, the next job, all that sort of stuff — you’re in trouble, because he’s not on the field.”
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Maguire’s expletive-filled speeches in the documentary after losses to the Cowboys and Titans didn’t go unnoticed by Newcastle Knights legend Matty Johns either.
“What struck me — and it’s a huge problem for Madge and the Wests Tigers — it’s the lack of a really strong standout leader in their playing ranks,” he told The Matty Johns podcast.
“Because when you have at least one strong leader in the playing ranks, the coach has to do less talking.
“What you see in the sheds at halftime and before the games is just Madge talking.
“Madge has got to fill the void. No one standing up in the playing ranks laying down the law.
“If there isn’t a strong leader among the players then the coach has to do 90 per cent of the talking and that’s what burns players out.”