Andrew Johns says there’s something broken in the Cowboys organisation amid rumours surrounding coach Paul Green’s future at the club.
The Cowboys have had a difficult week following a dismal performance against the Tigers, which saw Green’s men give up 34 points in the first half.
That insipid showing sparked debate over whether or not Green was the right man to lead the 2017 grand finalists into the future, with some critics suggesting his message was no longer getting through to the players.
In a show of loyalty, Green this week stuck with the same starting 13 that got rolled by the Tigers, with Reuben Cotter the only new face in his 17 for this weekend’s Townsville clash with the Knights.
The Cowboys appear at long odds to play their first finals series in three seasons with a 2-4 record this season. With a horror draw ahead and injured stars Michael Morgan and Valentine Holmes still weeks away from returning, Green’s men face an arduous task to make the top eight.
Premiership winner Justin O’Neill conceded this week the club is currently experiencing the darkest period since he joined in 2015 – the Cowboys’ fairy tale premiership season.
Speaking on Wide World of Sports’ Immortal Behaviour, Johns said O’Neill’s comments were “frightening” because of his standing within the team.
“He’s played in a grand final winning team, played Origin, played for Australia so he’d be close to the mark in saying that. It’s frightening when a player comes out and says that,” Johns said.
The Cowboys were on the front foot this week to ease fears Green may follow in dumped Warriors coach Stephen Kearney’s footsteps, publicly supporting Green ahead of Saturday’s home clash.
Johns highlighted the effort from the players in the loss against the Tigers but suggested there could be a “fracture” between the coach and the playing group.
“Getting beat with all due respect to the Wests Tigers, they’re not a Roosters, Storm or a Parramatta at the moment, who are flying,” Johns said.
“They were down 34-0 at halftime and you’ve got to question the players. I’m not saying they didn’t have a go but the question will be did you give 100 per cent and the answer to that question is no.
“So many rumours out there going on with Paul Green, whether the relationship has got stale out there. I don’t know but there seems to be some sort of fracture at the organisation.
“It’s a big test against the Knights up there and I think in the next six weeks they’ve got a really tough run.”
Green is one of a number of coaches feeling the heat at the moment, along with Canterbury’s Dean Pay, Brisbane’s Anthony Seibold, Cronulla’s John Morris and St George Illawarra’s Paul McGregor.
The Cowboys face Parramatta next round away, before taking on the Roosters, Penrith, Manly and Canberra.