OPINION: The 'forgotten' NRL coach Wests Tigers desperately need

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With Michael Maguire increasingly unlikely to stay on as Wests Tigers coach, former Manly coach Geoff Toovey has been thrown up as a potential replacement. Pictures: Getty Images
With Michael Maguire increasingly unlikely to stay on as Wests Tigers coach, former Manly coach Geoff Toovey has been thrown up as a potential replacement. Pictures: Getty Images

The Wests Tigers are slowly edging towards giving Michael Maguire the bullet following the disastrous end to their 2021 campaign, appeasing the noisy minority once again.

Penrith assistant Cameron Ciraldo is the preferred choice if there is to be change, but would he give up what he's got at the Panthers to risk it all?

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You'd think the last thing a rookie coach needs is to inherit a broken roster at a club which is still trying to work out exactly what it stands for and in what direction it wants to head.

Paul Green's name has been mentioned, as has Shane Flanagan and England-based duo Shaun Wane and Kristian Woolf.

But what about a coach who has a better winning percentage than Flanagan and Green and more NRL experience than Woolf, Ciraldo and Wane combined?

Ask anyone involved in rugby league why Geoff Toovey can’t get a look-in as an NRL coach and you get a blank stare and a shrug of the shoulders.

They have no answer.

If you go off stats, Toovey's winning percentage (58%) exceeds the usual suspects thrown up whenever a coaching vacancy appears.

Okay, he didn’t win a premiership during his four years at Manly but came desperately close against the Roosters in the 2013 grand final (just ask Sea Eagles fans still blueing about a missed forward pass!).

The year before – his first season in charge after Des Hasler's abrupt exit to Belmore – Toovey guided Manly to a preliminary final where they lost to eventual premiers Melbourne.

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In 2014 they went down by a point to Canterbury in the semi-finals before free-falling to ninth – one win outside the eight - in his final season in 2015.

So, let's go through this again to make sure we've got it straight.

Four years, three finals appearances and a losing grand final - and then punted?

Hard to believe.

Toovey's demise had little to do with on-field results and much to do with the internal politics at Manly.

His record would indicate he has plenty to offer yet his name never gets put forward.

Perhaps there's a perception he's "Manly only" or doesn't crave a return to the NRL.

Both assumptions are wrong.

Toovey remains a keen student of the game and is not finished as a coach.

He helped prepare the NSW women's Origin side this year, furthering his football education with a stint at the Warringah Rats in the Sydney rugby premiership.

If the Tigers are to make a change, Toovey is at least worth a phone call.

Maroons to look no further than Billy Slater

Champion players don't always make champion coaches, but those in the know have no doubt Billy Slater has what it takes to make a successful transition.

The former Storm No.1 narrowly missed out on the Queensland Origin job to Paul Green last year but is now the prime candidate following Green's decision to stand down.

The Melbourne coaching hierarchy has been very impressed with Slater's input and insight since retiring and believe he has all the makings of a top level coach.

They believe appointing him Queensland coach contains little risk and huge reward.

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