Sydney Roosters coach, Trent Robinson, is facing adversity for what may be the very first time in his career. As rugby league coaches go, Robinson has been lucky enough to achieve great success during his tenure at the top, including three premierships wins and storied success.
Despite the success he has achieved, the Sydney Roosters are currently languishing in 12th position on the ladder and have lost 4 out of their last 5 matches and Robinson is under immense pressure to turn it all around. If you thought that it couldn’t get worse for Robinson, it definitely can.
Notwithstanding the plethora of talent within their squad, the Sydney Roosters have the worst attacking record in the league and it is apparent to anyone with an iota of rugby league knowledge that Robinson has mismanaged the football department in a number of areas this year.
Firstly, Robinson’s decision to drop Sam Walker was entirely misguided.
If Robinson was hoping that the enigmatic centre three-quarter, Joseph Manu, would be the player to turn around their jilted attack – he has clearly been proven wrong.
In fact, this decision itself, could squarely be blamed for much of the Roosters‘ struggles over the last few weeks. Robinson’s overzealousness in dropping young Sam Walker, instead of assisting and encouraging the young half to improve his craft in the top grade, could single handedly be the reason that the Roosters will go on to miss this year’s final series.
Much to the dismay of the fans and the remainder of the club, while in exile, Sam Walker was injured and is currently unavailable to step in and assist the team.
Robinson, who is often meticulously calculated, may have shown that on this occasion he has was meticulously miscalculated as the club will now need to rely upon an untested and unproven Sandon Smith to assist them out of this rut.
Sandon Smith will be facing this task with a certain level of apprehension as the issue remains that Robinson has not successfully developed a first grade halfback during his career in the NRL.
Secondly, Robinson’s handling of the the Greek tragedy that is Joseph Suaalii‘s rugby league career, is another factor that may contribute to his undoing.
When the South Sydney Rabbitohs were not willing to entertain release provisions in Suaalii’s contract of employment, along came Trent Robinson and his band of merry men to sign the young prodigy, while meeting his (and his father’s) every demand.
The Roosters are usually a club that backs themselves to close deals of this nature, however, the question begs to be asked.
Did anyone, especially Robinson, consider the detrimental effects that the Suaalii circus would have upon their season?
Perhaps, the recruitment of Suaalii for the Roosters was the first misguided determination made by Robinson. The young prodigy does not feature in the top 20 for any attacking statistic across the competition. The young prodigy has yet to feature as a game breaker in any match he has played over his short career. The young prodigy may not be a prodigy at all.
Surely, a coach the calibre of Robinson, wouldn’t have hinged so much faith in potential as opposed to proven ability?
Thirdly, Brandon Smith was brought to the club to fix a problem identified in the hooker position. Sam Verrills was moved on to the Gold Coast Titans as he was simply not the answer Robinson was looking for.
After being wined and dined by Robinson with a fancy French feast, Smith confirmed with much fanfare that he opted to take unders to join the Bondi club.
Craig Bellamy, a man many consider to be the most successful and influential coach in rugby league history, had some other ideas about Smith that were overlooked by the Roosters. Bellamy never believed Smith was an 80 minute hooker, nor did Bellamy ever confirm a view that hooker was Smith’s best position at all. Bellamy would routinely opt to play Smith in the forwards and rotate him with Queensland Maroons representative Harry Grant when he was given the hooking duties.
It is certainly clear as day that Robinson disagrees with Bellamy, or at the very least, simply failed to implement a mitigation plan to alleviate any performance concerns he may (or may not) have identified.
Finally, Robinson and the club have publicly criticised Jason Ryles for exploring employment opportunities to further his career. For a club self professed to be a club of choice among playing and coaching talent, it doesn’t appear, at least in 2023, to be upholding these virtuous principles.
In fact, Ryles was chastised for simply reviewing his options elsewhere – how can this be an environment for any employee to thrive?
As a result of Ryles’ treachery, he was directed to move on so the club could look to the future. It appears Boyd Cordner and Jake Friend have been elevated to perform the functions left vacant by Ryles.
In the weeks ahead, Robinson will be experiencing coaching pressure like never before. He will be tested like never before.
Robinson has time and an opportunity to right his wrongs, however, if Robinson doesn’t fix these mounting issues quickly, he will need to start reviewing his own future very soon.