West Tigers chairman Lee Hagipantelis lifted the veil on the “embarrassing” circus that engulfed the club on Monday and resulted in the decision to retain Michael Maguire as coach.
The Tigers board launched an urgent review of football operations immediately following a dismal last-round loss to the Canterbury Wooden Spoons a fortnight ago.
The review was led by club CEO Justin Pascoe and football chief Adam Hartigan. It was generally believed that this would end with the dismissal of the coach.
A report released on Monday afternoon claimed Maguire was due to be sacked within hours, but the club released a sensational statement less than 24 hours later announcing they would not fire him.
Hours later, Hagipantelis introduced Nine News Sydney to explain the comedic series of events.
“I have never criticized Michael Maguire as a coach,” he said.
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“I’m unhappy to have finished 13th, as are our fans and our members, and as they should be. But as a person and as a coach, I have never criticized Michael, but I am unhappy with the results.
“Yesterday, in my opinion, was a debacle and an embarrassment for the club.
“Far too much of this process has been played out in the media.”
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It has been reported that the Tigers are considering Penrith’s current assistant Cameron Ciraldo as a replacement coach once Maguire leaves.
There will be speculation the club only decided to keep Maguire because Ciraldo pushed them away, but the president denies that is the case.
“We have not considered any alternative. We have not approached any alternative candidate, we have not told anyone,” he said.
The Tigers have slid down the NRL ladder since Maguire took the reins three years ago.
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This year they’ve won just eight games and finished 13th, with the demoralizing round 25 loss to the Bulldogs ending another sad season.
Hagipantelis says Maguire is under no pressure to keep his job early next season.
“The pressure will be external, it will not be internal,” he said.
“It won’t be a pressure that we put on Michael or the group of players. We will provide them with all the support and resources they need to be successful.”
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Highest-paid NRL players of the 2021 final series