FORMER Great Britain boss Brian Noble has accused Super League clubs and the game’s administrators of turning their back on home-grown coaches in a clamour to appoint overseas personnel.
Noble, the most successful coach in the Super League era from his five-year spell at Bradford, believes there is little incentive for British players to pursue a coaching career when clubs opt instead for reserve coaches from Australia.
Noble’s comments, which appear in his column for “Forty-20”, a new monthly magazine published for the first time this week, come in the wake of the appointment of little-known Australian Matt Parish at Salford, who are one of nine out of the 14 top-flight clubs to employ an overseas head coach.
“If I were a young, eager and enthusiastic British coach setting out now, trying to learn my trade, I would be incredibly disillusioned,” said Noble (inset). “Most likely, I would not even be tempted to try.
“The opportunity for good British coaches is not presenting itself at the moment when you look at the recruitment policy of most Super League clubs.
“Some are getting a chance in the Championship and say they want opportunities at the elite level but there appears to be a glass ceiling.”
Noble, who is without a club but among the favourites to succeed Terry Matterson at Castleford, believes there is a place in Super League for overseas coaches but argues they should be of proven quality and says including them as part of a club’s import quota would be a positive step.
“I’m all for employing the top-quality overseas coach,” he said. “I myself was a product of (Australian coaches) Brian Smith and Matthew Elliott (at Bradford).
“With the greatest respect to some of the blokes being appointed now, their reputations and CVs are not where we’ve gone to previously.
“That’s not to say they might not astound us but quality control is massively important.
“If you look at Michael Maguire, he was in a system at Melbourne that had proven credentials.
“He had done his apprenticeship, earned his ticket and wasn’t too much of a risk for Wigan.
“Where do the likes of (British assistant coaches) Kieron Purtill (St Helens), Francis Cummins (Bradford) and Paul Anderson (Huddersfield) see their futures if Salford appoint Matt Parish?
“Where is the next British-born national coach going to come from?
“If overseas coaches are so important to our system and we are not giving our own aspiring, talented coaches the encouragement to be head honchos, why not put the overseas ones on the import quota and make the club decide how vital they are overall?
“That would also take away a playing option and so would force the coach to unearth and promote more British talent.”
Noble also points the finger at the RFL, accusing them of allowing a production line of aspiring British coaches to grind to a halt.
“Alongside David Waite in 2000/01, I helped deliver programmes to a squad of around 20 coaches, each of whom were earmarked and mentored,” he added. “Among that group were Graham Steadman, Mike Ford, the Kelly brothers and David Lyon – none of whom are currently working within the game.
“We need a system that has to be propagated by the RFL. It has to come from the centre, to promote the best we have to offer.
“It will be interesting to see if Shaun Wane actually does get the Wigan gig when Michael Maguire returns to Australia.
“In 2003/04, 10 of the Super League coaches were English and we had redressed the balance. This needs to happen again."