NSW coach Maguire braces for shot at redemption

George Clarke |

Michael Maguire has a chance to put his time at Wests Tigers behind him and make it count with NSW.
Michael Maguire has a chance to put his time at Wests Tigers behind him and make it count with NSW.

Michael Maguire enters his first State of Origin clash as NSW coach with a point to prove, history on his side and Queensland in his sights.

Maguire will coach his first Origin game on Wednesday at Accor Stadium aiming to wrestle back the Maroons’ two-year grip on the shield under Billy Slater.

The Queensland coach has earned plaudits for his innovation and proactive approach, but in Maguire he may be about to meet his match.

Maguire’s reputation took a hit when he was sacked by the Wests Tigers but there is no doubting his dedication, attention to detail and thirst to win.

His demands are high but so too are his results.

“He is a completely different kind of coach (now),” said Blues back-rower Angus Crichton, who made his NRL debut under Maguire at South Sydney in 2016.

Maguire
Michael Maguire (c) is a much more relaxed and exciting coach, says Angus Crichton. (Dan Himbrechts/AAP PHOTOS)

“I think he’s a lot wiser and he’s learned from his time with the Tigers and with the Kiwis.

“(He is) a little bit more relaxed, it’s exciting.”

Barring a spell at the Tigers, Maguire’s teams have played tough and always tasted success.

After serving an apprenticeship under Craig Bellamy at the Melbourne Storm, the 50-year-old ventured to the Super League, winning three trophies in two seasons at Wigan and modernising the British game.

He returned to the NRL with South Sydney in 2012 and ended the club’s premiership drought in 2014 after turning the Bunnies into a sought-after destination for the game’s top talent.

And before taking the NSW job late last year, he was juggling assistant duties to Ricky Stuart at Canberra while coaching New Zealand.

“I think he’s just really passionate and really detailed on his job,” said Canberra second-rower Hudson Young.

“You’ve obviously seen that at the clubs that he’s been at before. I’m excited to see what he can do here (with NSW).”

Maguire oversaw two Kiwis wins over Australia, clinched last year’s Pacific Championship and boasts the best win-rate of any New Zealand coach of the last 50 years.

As rumours swirl he will be a candidate for the vacant Parramatta job, the only real blemish on his CV is was unable to revive the Tigers where a fly-on-the-wall documentary made him out to be a ranting and raving drill sergeant.

“I think he’d probably be the first to admit that (he was too intense),” Crichton said.

“I think it’s a credit to him as a coach and as a man for evolving with the times and learning from where he might have made some mistakes in the past.”

NSW players this last week lauded Maguire for handing them control of the sessions.

Now it’s over to Maguire’s squad to ensure they halt Queensland’s pursuit of three-straight series.

“He’s tried really hard to make it a great camp for us and everyone’s taken a lot out of it,” said Blues captain Jake Trbojevic. “We’ve got to go repay it and play really well.”

AAP