Last Sunday, Fox Sports Lara Pitt spoke directly to Phil Gould amidst rumours and speculation that he could be stepping in, as part of a unique trio with Brad Fittler and Andrew Johns, to coach the New South Wales Origin side in 2018.
The most honest and correct statement he made regarding Laurie Daley’s sacking was, “Laurie’s not a professional coach. This is not what he does for a living.”
And that right there hits at 50 percent of the Blues’ issues. He isn’t a professional coach. That is exactly what NSW needs.
This is exactly the same issue that Fittler and Johns have. They may do some assistant coaching on the side – and ‘Freddy’ did coach the Roosters with mixed results a decade ago – but they aren’t full-time professional coaches of football teams.
Fittler and Johns are also very similar to Daley in another aspect. They were all magnificent players, undoubtedly the best of their generation in the world. But they are all laidback characters.
With stories emerging such as Josh Dugan and Blake Ferguson having some drinks before engaging in some less-than-professional interior designing of a hotel room prior to Origin II, coupled with the duo’s pub session and Andrew Fifita reportedly forcing Daley to backflip on his decision to have him start from the bench prior to the decider shows that the players did not respect Daley enough.
It’s not because they didn’t think he deserved it. It’s because Daley, like Fittler and Johns, comes across as one of the boys. There’s nothing wrong with that in some team environments. But it clearly doesn’t work for the Blues.
However, there is one coach who oozes passion and professionalism, is a full-time coach, played plenty of Origin footy and is looking for a gig.
Why hasn’t ‘Tooves’ been put forward as a candidate? The intense Manly club legend and former coach spent 2017 coaching the financial basketcase that is the Bradford Bulls, whose relegation to the third-tier competition would render Toovey too expensive to stay on. He wants to be back in Sydney and ideally at an NRL club.
But while he is yet to be picked up by any club, why not line him up to coach the Blues?
Furthermore, let him have full control of the side. He doesn’t need helpers like Daley did.
The decision to move Bob Fulton on for this series in favour of Peter Sterling would make the role more enticing for Toovey.
Toovey has bled for the Blues. He demands respect from his players and he is a smart tactician. He has all the qualities required to be an Origin coach.
And he will provide them a huge injection of the one thing they need the most: passion.
****This article appeared on Commentary Box Sports website on September 1, 2017****