Ask any Wigan fan about Michael Maguire and I doubt you will hear a bad word muttered. The man that took Wigan from a team being serial Semi-Fianlists, into Super League champions in his first year and Challenge Cup winners in his second and final year at the club. Pose that same questions to Souths fans and from looking on social media to the reaction of Maguire’s departure from Souths, I would suggest the sentiment is echoed from the DW to Redfern. The man that led Souths to their first premiership since 1971, the man that gave Souths a new identity like he did to Wigan, very much in the Craig Bellamy mould where he served as an assistant at Melbourne.
Why then, have Souths decided to let such a well respected coach leave? The honest answer, who knows! Missing out on the play offs two years in a row seems to have been the main reason, that coupled with their heavy capitulation at the hands of Melbourne last week was perhaps the final straw for Shane Richardson who looks set to appoint, Anthony Seibold as their new head coach.
Look at the reaction to Maguire’s departure from the rugby world, whether it be from fans like us, or ex-pros like Mark Ridell who tweeted – “The Titans should sign Michael Maguire ASAP. One of the best”. It’s clear that Maguire’s reputation is likely to remain unaffected by his dismissal at Souths and that it will probably benefit another team, either in the NRL or Super League massively. Rarely do you see a dismissal of a coach in rugby met with such astonishment and spark such debate.
What next for Maguire? Well, before his departure was announced it was rumoured that Warrington were interested in signing him as a replacement for Tony Smith; then, when it was announced he was leaving Souths, those rumours continue. What a great signing he would be for any Super League club, not only Warrington. However, I think Maguire has enough credit in the bank to warrant another stint in the NRL before he would consider Super League again (or is that just my hopeful thinking that he doesn’t go to Warrington). I’d like to think that, his relationship with the Wigan club and Wigan being the club that gave him his first opportunity to be a head coach might make him a one SL Club Man and should he come back to the Super League, it might one day be at Wigan. Currently there isn’t a vacancy and nor am I suggesting there should be, whilst Shaun Wane continues to have his doubters, he in my opinion, deserves to continue at Wigan after he delivers finals and hopefully more success.
IF Maguire decides he should stay in the NRL and on behalf of all WIgan fans, Mr Maguire, please stay in the NRL. Then what club would be good for him? As Riddell tweeted, the Titans could be a perfect club for him. Maguire seems to be the perfect man to assess a club and make changes from top to bottom – he creates a culture change, a culture that ultimately is a winning culture. If you could hand pick any club that needs Maguire, I would say its the Warriors (The New Zealand variety). A club that has continuously underachieved and has a culture issue that has long been cited for on and off the field issues. Put Maguire in charge of Shaun Johnson and co and you might find a team of potential, starts to realise its potential.
Wherever Maguire ends up, from everyone at Wigan – good luck (but if you’re at another Super League club – not too much luck!)