Coaches go as NRL copies EPL playbook

THE NRL has taken a leaf out of the ruthless English Premier League's book with almost half of the competition's head coaches either sacked, replaced or walking out on clubs during a tumultuous 2014.

Three coaches have already been given the chop this season.

Matthew Elliott start the exodus, walking out on the Warriors on April 7 once it became clear to him the players weren't supportive of his coaching style.

Seven weeks later the St George-Illawarra board dropped the axe on Steve Price, and last week Brisbane confirmed Anthony Griffin would be replaced in the final year of his contract by former Broncos coach Wayne Bennett. The 64-year-old had earlier notified the Newcastle Knights he was not be seeing out his own contract after the club's former owner Nathan Tinkler jumped ship mid-season and handed back his NRL licence.

Over at Cronulla, interim coach Peter Sharp walked out on the Sharks after 18 games, handing the reins to rookie James Shepherd who did his cause the world of good by pulling off a stunning weekend upset over Penrith. The Sharks are considering Shepherd's position for the remainder of the season.

Just before last weekend's round kicked off, rumours were rife the Wests Tigers were going to dump Mick Potter.

At the same time, the Gold Coast Titans, who have commissioned an independent review of the club's on and off-field performance, were subjected to unconfirmed reports they were about to replace foundation coach John Cartwright with his assistant, former Canberra and North Queensland Cowboys head coach Neil Henry.

NRL coaches have been sacked before during the season.

But not in its 100-year history has the coaches club faced such a heavy toll as it will have by the time the 2014 season finishes.

The last EPL season was also memorable for the carnage among its managers, with 12 given the sack among the 20 clubs.

NRL club boards are now prepared to install interim coaches or promote assistant coaches to do the job while they jostle to secure the coach they want.

The odds were always stacked against Elliott surviving at the Warriors considering the flamboyant roster could not cope with his preferred conservative playing style.

Price was caught between a rock and a hard place at the Dragons, taking over from Bennett who delivered the club a much-craved premiership in 2010 before joining Newcastle on a mega-deal. Price managed just 22 wins from 58 games, less than a 50%, which was never going to be enough following the success Bennett brought.

Griffin began the season confronted by newspaper reports he had eight weeks to convince the board to keep him.

He had the support of his players and was close to getting the board's seal of approval until Bennett suddenly came on the open market, the lure of getting its master coach back to Red Hill where he had won six of his seven NRL premierships proving too hard to resist.

It remains to be seen whether those considered not good enough this season get another opportunity in 2015.

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