After three years at the helm of the New Zealand Warriors and three years of missing finals footy its time for Andrew McFadden to do the honourable thing and fall on his sword.
His perplexing bench selections have boggled the minds of even longtime league fanatics. McFadden's penchant for carrying a specialist outside edge player seemed like a bad choice for most and absolutely pointless when that player would do nothing but warm the bench.
Games against bigger packs like the Sharks saw us come undone when an extra forward was a more logical choice. Most disappointing was seeing his late change that saw Tuimoala Lolohea benched and replaced by Jonathan Wright who went on to have his worst game in Warriors colours against the Sharks.
Most annoying is McFadden didn't seem to learn any lessons he would make the same mistake against the Raiders bigger pack again carrying Lolohea on the bench.
While we're talking about Tuimoala Lolohea it's been disappointing to see his development not only stagnate but go backwards under McFadden's tutelage. He would drop Lolohea to the bench to work on some deficiencies in his game yet make him work on them by sitting out the first 80 minutes of the match and only bring him on in Golden Point after Blake Ayshford was injured. Surely he would have been better working on his game in the Reserve Grade?
Whatever happened to Lolohea being the long-term five-eighth of the club? He hasn't been back there since Roger Tuivasa-Sheck got injured. Long-term five-eighth for all of ten minutes.
Even more laughable was when he again dropped Lolohea citing his need to restore his confidence when it was McFadden playing positional musical chairs with Lolohea's selections that had destroyed his confidence in the first place.
The biggest victim of McFadden's inability to develop players is arguably Konrad Hurrell. When he was re-signed by the club only last year McFadden said “Konrad has a huge role to play for us.”
“We saw how much he developed his game last year and there’s still a lot of improvement in him. Koni has made a real impact in the NRL and we know there’s a lot more to come.”
So what changed so badly that less than a half a year later the club were publicly trying their level best to shop Hurrell around? From all accounts he came back to camp fully fit and was training the house down. I appreciate there is likely to be more to this then we will probably ever know but the fact remains that the coach lacked the ability to turn Hurrell into the player envisioned at the time of his re-signing.
The Gold Coast Titans are now enjoying all the hard work the club put into developing Hurrell since 2011.
Another player who has gone backwards in his development is quite possible the most important player in the team. I'm talking about Shaun Johnson of course. That is somewhat ironic when you consider McFadden was a halfback himself when he played in the NRL. Even worse is that he has the greatest halfback New Zealand has ever produced in Stacey Jones amongst his training staff.
With the wealth of halfback experience at the club and the tens of thousands the club have spent on sports psychologists just for Johnson it just doesn't make sense that his development would suffer under the current conditions.
Lately you have had players coming out in support of McFadden after yet another failed season. While it appears he may have the respect of the squad would players go out late to a concert the night before a game? Would 3 of your senior players lead 3 of your junior players out on a night prescription pill and energy drink abuse if they truly held the coach in such high regard?
Jacob Lillyman has backed McFadden. "The last thing we need is another coach," he said. Simon Mannering and Ben Matulino also defended the coach on the After Match program on SKY TV after the Wests Tigers loss that cost us the season. Funnily enough both Lillyman and Matulino have been well below their best while Mannering gave up the captaincy this year.
Players look to be saying one thing but doing another. If they are in fact behind the coach they certainly having been playing like it. Has Lillyman ever played for Cappy like he did during Game 2 of last years State of Origin? Has Matulino repeated his efforts of 2012 that saw him win the Warriors Player of the Year award?
Why are the rookies like Lolohea and Ken Maumalo dropped for poor performances yet the seniors we rely on the most to set the standard are bulletproof. None more so then Manu Vatuvei whose poor handling skills are no longer being outweighed by his positives.
Are the players happy to have McFadden as coach because they know their jobs are secure? Ivan Cleary had no problems dropping players to NSW Cup and we saw that happen to Russell Packer and Ruben Wiki.
There is a need to also get rid of a few players who are not delivering or are simply deadwood but that's a natural process that a new coach would go through to tailor the team he needs to play his game-plan.
This year with a squad that has either been signed, re-signed or debuted while McFadden has been in charge he has a win record of 43% while being the second worst defensive team in the competition. Even after hand picking defensive coach Justin Morgan.
When you look back at McFadden's tenure as a whole its been average to put it nicely. With a win record of 44% (which is worse than his predecessor and mentor Matthew Elliott), the worst consecutive losing streak in Warriors history and missing the top 8 for all his three years at the job he is clearly out of his depth. The McFadden era hasn't seen any vast improvements in the clubs fortunes and with results being the only statistic that matters at the end of the day he's failed on all fronts.
While no one has the answers as to which coach can actually turn this club around its certainly not Andrew McFadden. The club under Wayne Scurrah posed that question back in 2014. McFadden despite all his efforts has failed to answer.
The fans deserve much better than what's being delivered. After 5 years of missing the cut most will be at their wits end. Enough's enough. The time for change is now.