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Last weekendís game between Wigan and Warrington proved that foreign intervention works on many levels. Firstly there is the coaching, because Wigan and Warrington have both improved since Australian coaches have been appointed for their respective clubs. Michael Maguire has turned Wigan from the third best team in the country to the best team in the country. This is all down to his structured game plan and modern training practices. These are just two of many things that would have been missing from our game if we ever outlawed foreign intervention.
Most people are probably happy to see Michael Maguire go back to Australia at the end of this season but Iím not. Heís brought through two potentially great English players in Josh Charnley and Sam Tomkins. Sam Tomkins has been compared to Billy Slater which is not a surprise considering Michael Maguire has coached Billy in the past at Melbourne. As much as I donít like the bad things the likes of Michael Maguire and Nathan Brown have bought into the English game, we shouldnít let this blind us from the good things that have been happening.
Tony Smith last weekend proved that such negative tactics for the game can be overcome by fantastic attack, that isnít willing to bow down to a brutal defence. Throughout this season Warrington Wolves have managed to collect over 1,000 points, which is absolutely fantastic. Especially when considering that weíre now in a so called salary cap era thatís supposed to make every team equal. But I remember when Tony Smith was at the helm of Leeds Rhinos and it was the same back then. By the way this isnít leading up to another anti-Brian McDermott rant.
Perhaps the most welcome person to Superleague this year is the new Salford City Reds coach Matt Parish. Heís not been given the warmest welcome from certain quarters in the game over here who just see him as someone whoís taking away another British person job. However, if you read some of what Matt has been saying in the press about where things must improve, I think that heís right. He talks about Salford needing a steady stream of young players coming through the ranks to be a nucleus of their team for years to come. He has also suggested that training under the previous regime at Salford was unacceptable, and not one worthy of a top flight club. Matt is someone who probably wants to be a head coach in the NRL at some point, and thereís no way heís going to do that unless he drastically turns Salford around. Salford have been the perennial under-achievers, except a solitary season when they finished fifth under Karl Harrison. Unfortunately the form of that season was never built on.
Thereís still a place for English people in the game and for sure we are edging closer and closer to matching the class of the NRL every year. However, more intervention is needed rather than less. At Leeds Rhinos we could certainly do with someone who can come in and help Brian McDermott. This season has shown that Brian, at times, looks like he has the potential to be a top class coach. But I feel that heís got a bit stuck in his ways, and there are just some things that are needed to be improved at this great club of ours.
Do we really have someone at our club that could lead an NRL team to Grand Final victory? I somewhat doubt it at this very moment in time. Either way itíll be interesting to see if Brian McDermott can maintain form, or even better, build on from the efforts of the last two weeks.