Michael Maguire wins race for NSW coaching job as State of Origin move savaged

The former Rabbitohs and Tigers boss will be the next coach of the NSW Blues.

Michael Maguire
Michael Maguire (L) has reportedly won the race to be the next NSW coach after Scott Sattler (centre) criticised the NSWRL board. Image: Getty

Michael Maguire has won the race to be the next NSW State of Origin coach, with multiple outlets reporting the news on Thursday. Maguire is understood to be in the final stages of accepting the role from the NSW Rugby League board, after receiving what is believed to be a one-year offer.

Matty Johns had thrown his support behind Maguire earlier this week, saying: “I would have no problem appointing a coach who has a club affiliation because I think you need to be coach fit. You’ve got to be ready to make those tough decisions, deal with scenarios on the run and have the strength of personality to be used to ringing players and saying, ‘Listen, I like what you’re about but apologies I’m not going to pick you in the side.’ Head coaches are used to doing that, they’re seasoned to do it and for that reason I think Michael Maguire would be a great pick."

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Maguire led the Rabbitohs to the NRL premiership in 2014 and coached Souths for 153 games. He then joined the Wests Tigers and coached them for 80 games. The 49-year-old is currently contracted as an assistant coach at the Canberra Raiders, but has been given permission by the club to pursue the NSW role.

Scott Sattler savages NSW State of Origin move

Scott Sattler and Mat Rogers had earlier questioned whether the NSWRL board was taking State of Origin seriously enough after changing the head coaching role from a full-time contract to part-time. Brad Fittler stepped down from the Blues coaching role earlier this month when his request for a two-year contract extension was rejected.

The NSWRL only offered Fittler a one-year deal for 2024, but they also changed the role from full-time to part-time. Rather than being employed for 12 months of the year, the new coach will only be on a roughly five-month contract for the duration of the Origin series.

The new situation didn't appeal to Fittler and he subsequently withdrew from contention for the role. Discussing the move on SEN radio this week, league greats Sattler and Rogers were highly critical.

Michael Maguire and Brad Fittler.
Michael Maguire will take over from Brad Fittler as NSW State of Origin coach. Image: Getty

“The question I want to put out there is, how serious is State of Origin to NSWRL?" Sattler asked. "Are they creating an opportunity and making it attractive to coach the pinnacle of the game?

“The QRL looks like it's setting the standard of what the modern game should look like and how important State of Origin is. Because NSW looks like they’ve made it clear that it will probably be a part-time role if that happens, a part-time offer means a part-time mentality. Unless they made an offer to Freddy Fittler that he had to refuse to make a change, defeats will continue if you’re dealing with an opponent like Billy Slater, he ensures his team is prepared within an inch of its life.”

Slater recently agreed to a three-year contract extension, with the Queensland job believed to be a full-time role. Slater has led the Maroons to back-to-back series wins over Fittler and the Blues.

Brad Fittler, pictured here during a NSW State of Origin training session.
Brad Fittler looks on during a NSW State of Origin training session. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

Mat Rogers fears for future of State of Origin series

Rogers, who played five State of Origin games for Queensland, expressed his concerns for the future of the series if NSW don't pick up their game. “I know it’s a six-week program in terms of the coaching program but it’s bigger than that, it is so important that role,” Rogers said.

“I don’t think State of Origin survives the way that we know as we do now, I don’t think it survives another six or seven-year dynasty from Queensland, I know Queenslanders will show up. If NSW go through another four or five years of getting towelled up, I just don’t think they show up to the games, I think they throw their hands up.

“Are they taking this seriously? Are they actually putting the resources that it deserves based on what this generates, what it creates and what it means to your state? Are you really offering a part-time role?"

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