'It goes a lot deeper': Tigers legend exposes NRL club's grim reality

League legend Benny Elias suggests that coach Michael Maguire is just one of many problems at the embattled Wests Tigers. Pic: Fox Sports/Getty
League legend Benny Elias suggests that coach Michael Maguire is just one of many problems at the embattled Wests Tigers. Pic: Fox Sports/Getty

Balmain great Benny Elias insists the problems at the Wests Tigers extend far beyond coach Michael Maguire, whose future is once again under the spotlight.

Wests Tigers chairman Lee Hagipantelis says Maguire's job is safe pending an upcoming mid-season report from football boss Tim Sheens on the NRL strugglers.

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The Tigers' 44-18 capitulation to South Sydney - their ninth loss of the season - appeared to sound a death knell for Maguire.

Veteran league reporter Phil Rothfield suggested Maguire had effectively coached his last game, with the Tigers enjoying a bye this round due to State of Origin.

They beat the Rabbitohs by a point in round seven but have only managed one win since, against cellar dwellers Canterbury, to sit 15th on the ladder.

It continues a backwards slide since Maguire's first year in charge in 2019 when they finished ninth, with the coach surviving an end of season review in 2021 to be handed the reins again this season.

The Tigers haven't played finals footy since 2011 and Elias says the club owes it to its long-suffering fans to provide transparency about last year's review and the decision to keep Maguire on as coach.

“It’s not just the coach — far from it actually. It goes a lot deeper than that," Elias told Fox Sports.

“I’d like first and foremost to have a look at this forensic review they did last year, which took them nearly nine weeks to do — that is my answer. Go and have a look at that and then come out with what were the deficiencies and what were the pluses in the place.

“The place looks very strong, we are financially extremely strong, infrastructure, facilities — very strong. Junior rugby league — extremely strong.

“So there’s something wrong and it frustrates me to no end that they haven’t revealed this review, which should be made public, because the supporters that love this great club need to know what the outcome of that review was.”

The 233-game Tigers legend says he has received "zero" response from the club about the outcome of last year's review and insists that it's "not good enough" on the fans.

Elias was quick to point out that he believes the club's struggles run deeper than the coach, but says Maguire is responsible for the club's recruitment and retention of players over the last few years.

Seen here, Wests Tigers coach Michael Maguire fronts media in a post-match NRL press conference.
The future of Wests Tigers coach Michael Maguire is once again under the microscope after the team's latest defeat. Pic: Getty

Wests Tigers coach under intense pressure

“He’s (Maguire) been there now for four years so he’s responsible for all the players that have come from that club,” he said.

“He’s the guy that says yes or no, he runs it by the board, the board rubber-stamps it and there we go, that’s his clientele.

“If it was a business it would be red ink everywhere. There’s one person that’s accountable for it at the end of the day and that is the coach.

“I don’t know how much longer they (the board) can be patient for.

“Is it because they have to sign him out for another two years and that’s an absolute disaster from a financial point of view, which again has to put focus on the hierarchy on the board."

While many see the Tigers' upcoming review as a death knell for Maguire, Tigers chairman Hagipantelis insists that's not the case.

"As of today, 31st of May 2022, Michael Maguire is the contracted coach of the Wests Tigers - there is nothing before me to indicate that that is going to change," Hagipantelis told SEN radio.

"As director of football Tim Sheens's responsibility is to oversee all the operations within the football department ... we put a lot of stock in Tim and that's why we brought him back.

"He's just found an opportune time at the middle of the year, at this two-week hiatus, where he can just do a little health check.

"Have a look at where we are sitting and why we are three from 12 ... what do we need to do to improve and what changes may or may not need to be made.

"He will come back to the board at the appropriate time with some recommendations and he will let us know what, if anything, needs to be done to ensure this club gets back on track."

with AAP

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