HE was announced as Wests Tigers coach less than a fortnight ago, yet after taking charge of his first training session with his new club, Mick Potter insisted the pre-season was ''on schedule''.
And while axed coach Tim Sheens was nowhere to be seen at Concord Oval on Monday, one of his former assistants, Royce Simmons, has returned to the club.
Before his sacking, Sheens had been keen for Simmons to return to the club. Now Potter, who was appointed as Sheens's replacement last month, is content to have the popular former hooker as an assistant, along with Steve Georgallis.
Potter took charge of his first training session yesterday, as the vast majority of the Tigers' squad - including new recruits Braith Anasta and Eddy Pettybourne - began their pre-season. The only major absentees were skipper Robbie Farah and back-rower Adam Blair, who played in the October Test match.
Potter started at the club following his late October appointment amid concerns that the Tigers, who finished a disappointing 10th last season, would be well behind the rest of the competition by the start of the pre-season because of the coaching uncertainty.
But Potter said: ''The guys who have been here before had most of it planned anyway. We're on schedule in terms of where we wanted to be.''
Of his first day in charge of the players, he said: ''We had a field session and a weights session, and everything went to plan. It was my first day with the players, although I've met most of them.''
Hayden Knowles, a former strength and conditioning coach at Parramatta, has also joined the club as a physical performance manager.
Sheens' future, though, remains unresolved. The club, keen to avoid paying out its long-time coach, has maintained it wanted Sheens at the club in another capacity.
''There's no resolution at this point,'' Tigers chief executive Stephen Humphreys said. ''We're just allowing him whatever time he needs to think through his options.
''We're certainly not going to rush him with that. Tim deserves a bit of a break, so we've encouraged him to take some time off and let us know when he's ready.''
Meanwhile, St George Illawarra coach Steve Price has revealed that the club withdrew from negotiations with England halfback Rangi Chase because he was happy with the options he had in the halves for next season. After being offered a release from Castleford to join the Dragons, Chase announced that he was staying put and Price said it had been his decision to withdraw from negotiations with the New Zealand-born playmaker.
He also said the club had not made an offer for Scott Prince, who has joined the Broncos after gaining a release from the Titans.
''We have got a number of potential halves there in Jamie Soward, Nathan Fien, Kyle Stanley and a young guy from Manly, Josh Drinkwater, and I just made the decision that I felt comfortable with the players we have got in that area at the moment,'' Price said.
''We have also got some exciting young hookers in Mitch Rein, Cameron King and Damien Cookso we are fine with what we have got in those positions.''
Stanley is understood to be Price's first choice to replace retired former captain Ben Hornby but the emergence of Rein and King will allow Fien to spend more time in the halves.
''A lot depends on how Kyle's knee comes along but he is doing a lot of straight line running and hopefully we will have him back for the first trial,'' said Price, who confirmed Kiwi international Gerard Beale would get ''first crack'' at fullback.
❏ Meanwhile, former Sydney Roosters coach Brian Smith visited NRL headquarters on Monday to discuss his interest in taking charge of referees next season. A replacement for sacked referees bosses Bill Harrigan and Stuart Raper is expected to be announced later this week.