How NRL’s unaccountable are wasting millions

Mark Levy is the host of 2GB’s Wide World of Sports radio show. Tune in from 6pm-7pm, Monday to Thursday!

Rugby league supporters are some of the most passionate in world sport and when times are tough, they’re not afraid to speak their minds and direct their anger at individuals.

But at what point do we start highlighting the mismanagement of the clubs?

The coaches are the easy targets, with Anthony Seibold and Paul McGregor on the chopping block at the moment despite signing long-term deals at Brisbane and St George Illawarra respectively.  

Seibold was recruited from South Sydney after coaching the Rabbitohs to the preliminary final, where they were beaten by the eventual 2018 premiers, the Roosters.

The Brisbane Broncos certainly raised a few eyebrows when they offered the inexperienced coach a five-year contract and the board demanded results. 

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In 2019, they endured their equal-worst start to a season before going on a run to reach an elimination final. The Broncos suffered their worst-ever defeat against Parramatta, with Seibold admitting, “I’m embarrassed and I can’t toss up any excuses, I’m the coach and I have to fix it.”

Unfortunately, nothing has changed for Brisbane; that record 58-0 loss to the Eels was eclipsed by the Roosters just four games later. They were booed off the field at half-time in Saturday’s loss to the Gold Coast, prompting some club legends to question the desire of the players and whether Seibold is the right man for the job.  

The board got themselves into this mess by signing him to a five-year deal and if they do end up punting the coach, it’ll cost them an absolute fortune.

Broncos coach Anthony Seibold faces the music alone after a poor loss to the Gold Coast Titans. (Getty)

The Dragons are in the same position given they’ll be forced to cough up over $1 million to pay out the contract of McGregor, who’s been forced to front up and answer some tough questions.  

They’ve turned things around over the last three weeks, dropping just one game, but the writing is still on the wall for the man affectionately known as ‘Mary’.

You’ve also got the Warriors, who have been churning through their coaches like the boxers and briefs in your underwear draw. Stephen Kearney was six months into a three-year deal when he was given his marching orders by the owners, costing the club $2 million.

Stephen Kearney as his Warriors were thumped by the Rabbitohs, his last game in charge. (AAP)

The coaches and players are judged on their results, so the question needs to be asked: why aren’t the directors and management teams at these clubs in the same boat? How can they justify long-term contracts when they end up sacking the coach?

ARLC chairman Peter V’landys has indicated the league won’t bail out any clubs if they fall on tough times in the future, so the financial positions of the 16 teams is paramount. Surely that means the days of five-year contracts are over.

The disgruntled supporters continue pointing the finger at the players and the coaching staff but I’d instead be focusing my frustration at the people running the clubs.

The board members are the first people spotted in the dressing room after a victory but when times are tough, they’re nowhere to be seen.

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