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Wests Tigers coach Mick Potter has gone from dead man walking to a man in demand


Daniel Lane

In line for a new deal: Tigers coach Mick Potter.

In line for a new deal: Tigers coach Mick Potter. Photo: Getty Images

Less than a year after being viewed as the NRL coaching fraternity's version of a dead man walking, Wests Tigers coach Mick Potter is on the verge of signing a contract extension with Wests Tigers.

Twelve months after his tenure was viewed as a week-to-week proposition and the axing of Benji Marshall caused ructions within the playing group, the dual Dally M medallist finally seems to have shaken off what was a brutal initiation.

The off-contract Potter has found his groove this season as the Tigers have moved into finals contention with a young side, leading to an optimistic view of the future of the joint-venture club.

Chief executive Grant Mayer confirmed on Saturday that Potter's effort was about to be rewarded with a new deal.

"There's a board meeting next week and the coaching appointment is a decision for the board," Mayer said. "It's absolutely a priority for us to get something done.

"[Potter] is a great bloke to have around the club. He's easy to work with and you can say where he wants [the club] to go."

Mayer reaffirmed the club's support for Potter after Fairfax Media asked him whether there was any truth to rumours the reason former grand final coach Brian Smith was recruited by Wests Tigers as a consultant to provide an overview of the merged club's football operations was to "assasinate" Potter.

"It disappoints me that anyone would think like that," Mayer said. "You have to ask where that [rumour] came from because there has to be a reason why the person started it. All I can say as CEO is it's absolute fiction.

"This was never about a review of the coach, it's about a review of the football department and anyone who says otherwise is being malicious and that's a disappointment.

"Brian was never brought in to [target Potter]. A football department is bigger than one man and what [Smith] has been doing is looking at how we are structured generally – it's not about one individual."

Mayer said the reason Smith, who has coached at Illawarra, St George, Newcastle, the Sydney Roosters and Parramatta, was appointed to conduct the review was because he has vast experience in creating pathways for talented players to progress through to the top grade.

"Brian Smith is a big believer in clubs having development pathways and we're a development club," he said. "That was the reason why we picked him. I'd never met the man more than once in 15 years, so there was no relationship. His name was suggested [for the job] and I thought it was a good idea."

While Wests Tigers have the bye this weekend, the resurgence of the team has, in affect, been the result of the pain the club went through last year when Potter was forced to throw rookies, such as Luke Brooks, into first grade.

Others – including marquee recruit Adam Blair, who Potter publicly supported when there were calls from the club's vocal supporter base to punt the New Zealand international because they didn't believe he was living up to his $500,000-a-season deal – have hit their straps and provided the club with grunt.

1 comment so far

  • Will this be another classic example of the incompetence of Wests Tigers management? I heard on the rugby commentary today that Will Skelton the fantastic Wallaby prospect was actually a Wests Tigers junior and about 4 years ago Artie Beetson pleaded with the management (Humphreys) and coach (Sheens) to sign him up long term. They of course ignored this so the disillusioned kid went to rugby where he will be a star. Now they are taking on Brian Smith - who has proved to be a walking disaster area and culture destroyer at every club he has been with. Poor old Wests!! I just feel for their long suffering fans. If they had a decent management team they would have won 3 or more premierships in the last few years.

    E White
    Date and time
    June 22, 2014, 12:57AM

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