There have been four rounds of NRL rugby league since the COVID shutdown and two rounds of AFL football, but there have already been a couple of high profile casualties.
Every year there are always whispers about who is going to the first coach to be sacked.
At the start of the year, the Bulldogs’ Dean Pay and the Dragons’ Paul McGregor looked set to become the first casualties.
The Dragons were the first club to hold a board meeting, then publicly support McGregor. That pretty much means he will be sacked — it’s just a matter of time.
Other teams that have been struggling include the Cowboys, who have two wins this season and the Broncos, who went into the layoff undefeated.
Since the resumption, they have lost all four matches, scoring a paltry 30 points while conceding a massive 140 points.
So it took everyone by surprise when the first coach to sacked was the Warriors’ Stephen Kearney.
Warriors started the season with two losses before the shutdown.
They were the team most affected by COVID.
The whole team was forced to relocate, firstly to Tamworth, then to the Central Coast.
In my view, anyone forced to live in Tamworth should have been awarded bonus points.
For the last seven weeks or so, the Warriors have been living out of suitcases, with no direct contact with family or friends.
If the Warriors hadn’t made this sacrifice, there was a very real chance the 2020 season would not have been able to resume.
And despite winning two of the four games since resumption, the owners have decided to part ways with the coach.
No one knows what went on behind closed doors, but did the owners really expect better than two wins out of the first four games — given the conditions they found themselves under.
While I’m not convinced that Stephen Kearney has what it takes to be an NRL coach, the timing of this decision is astounding.
The first thing the owners have to work out is who is available to take over full time next year, and will that person do any better than Kearney.
Todd Payten was assistant coach and has been appointed as interim coach for the rest of the season and certainly has ambitions to coach at NRL level.
The question is will the Warriors go for a rookie coach like Payton, or will they chase someone with more experience?
There is little doubt the Warriors are one of the under-achievers of the NRL.
In 25 years in NRL (and Super League), the Warriors have made the finals eight times.
They have made the Grand Final twice — in 2002 and again in 2011 — but have yet to win a premiership, joining the Titans as the only clubs to have not won a premiership.
On paper, the Warriors have a good roster but they will continue to be hounded by questions over their longterm viability until they reach their full potential.
In the AFL, the first casualty of war is media personality, Sam Newman.
Newman and Channel 9 have parted ways amicably after yet another racially fuelled rant.
Newman made disparaging remarks about George Floyd, the African American man whose death in police custody led to fresh Black Lives Matter protests around the world.
Newman pointed to Floyd’a lengthy criminal record, which includes drug possession, theft and trespass.
Sadly, in the United States, so-called land of the free, doesn’t have a great record when it comes to imprisoning African Americans.
In 1982, black man Willie Simmons was imprisoned for life for robbing a man of his wallet, which contained $9.38. Years later, Simmons is still in gaol.
Every time the term Black Lives Matter comes up, people like Sam Newman counter with All Lives Matter.
No one disputes this, but right now the issue is about treatment of black people. It doesn’t mean that ONLY Black Lives Matter.
Former Collingwood defender Heritier Lumumba has spoken out about racismat the club.
He claims that he was nicknamed “chimp” and subjected to racism on a regular basis while he was a player.
Last weekend, the NRL celebrated Beanies For Brain Cancer in support of the Mark Hughes Foundation.
The former Knights player, Mark Hughes, has suffered from brain cancer and the foundation raises funds in search of a cure.
Every NRL team wore Beanies in support of this great cause.
Every commentator supported the cause.
No one said: “Hang on a minute . . . what about breast?”
No one said: “Blood cancer is bad too!”
No one criticised the organisers for pushing their own agenda.
No one started quoting stats about how many men die from heart disease.
Everyone just got behind a great cause.
I won’t be sorry to see the last of Sam Newman.
Out of the two of them, I will miss Stephen Kearney’s contribution more than Newman’s.
And remember, there’s no such thing as too much sport!
Footballer Mark Hughes.
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