Knights coach Adam O’Brien has reportedly conceded the club’s 2022 campaign is over — putting a timeline on his own tenure as the man to lead Newcastle forward.
The Knights have struggled this season, recording only five wins from 19 games, with pressure mounting on the men from the Hunter to turn their fortunes around.
O’Brien’s future as the club’s head coach has been firmly thrust into the spotlight, and now the 44-year-old has admitted he may have “six to eight weeks” at the start of the 2023 season to save his job.
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“I spoke to Adam O’Brien this morning, he asked me ‘how are the punters seeing it from outside’,” The Daily Telegraph’s Buzz Rothfield said on NRL360.
“I said I think everyone is happy that you are safe for the rest of the year, I then said I think you have six to eight weeks at the start of next year.
“He agreed, 100% he agreed.”
But NRL360 co-host Paul Kent disagreed, questioning why the club would take a gamble on a coach that has failed to meet expectations in 2022.
Meanwhile, Newcastle have signed Peter Parr as the director of football, handing over control of the Knights’ football operations.
Kent believes that Parr won’t be willing to gamble at the start of next season as beginning each year strong is crucial to slotting into the top eight.
“If that is the case, I would now shorten that, Peter Parr has now come into the club, why would Newcastle take a gamble on the start of next year?” Kent asked.
“If you gamble the first six to eight weeks next year, after that it is all over.”
“What he is saying is this season is over, what he is saying is that the patience and the loyalty that he expects from the board will go for six to eight weeks next year,” Rothfield said.
NRL360 host Braith Anasta likened O’Brien’s situation to that of embattled Titans coach Justin Holbrook — who is also facing the axe after a tumultuous 2022 campaign.
Both made the decision to dump experienced halfbacks in Mitchell Pearce and Jamal Fogarty, and both are paying the price.
“The start of next year is just everything for both coaches,” Anasta said.
“The six weeks to start next year is going to be everything.”
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“The halfback, Mitchell Pearce going, he took them to finals two years in a row and he walked,” Rothfield added.
Meanwhile, O’Brien came under fire for referencing his resume as an assistant after the club’s poor performance against the Bulldogs.
O’Brien worked under Craig Bellamy during a successful period for the Melbourne Storm, explaining he knows how to win premierships.
“Previous to getting this job here I was involved in four grand finals,” O’Brien said.
“I know how those teams prepared. I know the systems they used defensively.
“You don’t unlearn that knowledge. Applying it and getting it ingrained is going to take some time clearly.”
Kent slammed O’Brien’s claims, explaining there is a major difference between watching someone else teach a system and implementing it in your own team.
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“If Adam O’Brien had his chance again he would have shut up and said nothing,” Kent said.
“And what he said there is irrelevant because it doesn’t matter if you have seen it… you have got to start being the head coach and making decisions.
“There is a big difference between being the assistant and the head coach, to know what it looks like doesn’t mean you can teach it.
“Everyone just looks at what everyone is doing, okay we will start coaching that.
“We spoke about it earlier in the year when Trent Barrett was trying to integrate Penrith’s style of attack into Canterbury.
“They are two different playing groups and sometimes you can’t just sit down and teach a fifth grader four-unit maths, you need to take the stepping stones to get there.”