NRL Real or Not: Potter faces ultimate job interview

It certainly has been a turbulent week for the Bulldogs, as they begin the search for answers, starting with a new coach. Tom Trbojevic's poor season is starting to cause Origin concerns and Benny Elias produces a brilliant idea.

We tackle some of the big talking points in the latest edition of NRL Real or Not.


Mick Potter faces the ultimate job interview

Real: Apart from a coach's win/loss percentage, which has so many uncontrollable variables attached, exactly how do you measure a good coach? Just this week, Bulldogs captain Josh Jackson called Trent Barrett the best coach he had ever worked with.

Jackson's list includes Tim Sheens at the national level, Laurie Daley for New South Wales, Trent Barrett and Laurie Daley in the Country team and Des Hasler and Dean Pay at club level, so it could be argued that it's not really an extensive or particularly tough field. Yet, it seems that almost universally, players speak highly of Barrett. His success rate as a head coach has been less than ordinary, but it was more than just results that condemned him at the Bulldogs, it was a lack of any perceivable improvement.

Following the departure of Barrett, the media have compiled a list of at least nine potential candidates to take over the Bulldogs' coaching role from 2023. But, how does anyone really determine which of those would best manage what is an obviously difficult time at the club? Aren't all these coaches currently without head coaching roles for their own reasons?

Bulldogs football boss Phil Gould has named Michael Potter as the interim coach, to see out the remainder of this season. Potter himself has a mixed bag of a coaching career, in both the Super League and a brief and contentious stint with Wests Tigers. Could Potter be the answer for the Bulldogs, long term? Surely he is set for the ultimate job interview over the next few months. If he can turn this ship around and have the team achieve some success, wouldn't he have proved himself worthy? If he wants the job going forward, shouldn't this place him at the front of the pack?

Potter carries the added advantage of possessing an intangible quality; he has "Bulldogs' DNA". He played for the club during its proudest and most successful period in the 1980's. If anyone can talk to the spirit of the club and pride in the jersey it is Potter. And, you need look no further than Kevin Walters at the Broncos to see what a benefit that can be to a club struggling to regain respect.

Tom Trbojevic poses an Origin risk

Real: Tom Trbojevic has not been his unstoppable self in 2022. After a slow start to the season, it was suggested by many that the winding back of the six again rule had stifled the free-running reign of Tommy Turbo. It now seems that he may have also been hampered by injury, missing several weeks to have surgery on his knee. He has returned to the Sea Eagles, but has looked decidedly off his natural game in recent weeks. During last week's big loss to the Broncos he looked so distressed that it prompted a series of questions from the media after the game, all of which were deflected by coach Des Hasler.

"He is okay, he is getting back... still not quite there at the moment, but he is okay he won't use that as an excuse," Hasler said.

"I can categorically say he is okay, he's fine, he is fine."

With State of Origin rapidly approaching, the question is whether Trbojevic should be an automatic selection based on last year's dynamic form or whether a closer look should be taken at how he is currently travelling. On present form, with doubts over his fitness, he would appear to be a liability, particularly when there are several genuine centres putting their hands up for a run in the Blues jersey.

Trbojevic has a few weeks left to come good, before the team is named. The other candidates have the same time to prove that they would be a better option.

Benny Elias is an ideas man

Not Real: If you happened to catch NRL360 the other night, as I did not, you might have caught some of the brilliance that makes for conversation on the show these days. Special guest panelist Benny Elias had thought long and hard about the NRL Magic Round and came up with a way to make it just that little bit more magical. The former Test, New South Wales and Balmain Tigers hooker suggested that all games over the special weekend should be worth double points.

Referring to it as "double jeopardy" he explained that teams like the Tigers and Bulldogs would have a much-needed one-off chance to boost their points tally.

When asked about the team with the bye, he said that they could worry about that next year when the Dolphins join the competition. Seeing how next year will also be the first chance to run his double jeopardy round, it might be something worth considering, now.

Paul Kent tried to explain that it was more likely that the better teams would pull further away from the weaker teams when they beat them for the four points on offer, but Benny wasn't having any of that talk. He tried to reason that State of Origin would weaken the stronger sides in the following rounds, although it wasn't clear how this would help the weaker sides when they were battling for the four points.

We realise that three hours a week is a lot of air time to fill for a rugby league panel show, particularly when there seems to be an alarming drop in off-field player atrocities at the moment, but surely there needs to be a reality check before they unleash "ideas" thought up with no regard to logic.