Maguire’s hard-nosed ways also made headlines on the weekend as the players continue to train through until the grand final. They had their last field session on Monday and will wind things up on Tuesday with a final hitout in the gym.
The decision to train through September was originally knocked on the head by the Rugby League Players’ Association, but senior players later agreed to Maguire’s wish after they were informed the earliest the first group of players would be required to return is the middle of November.
Because the Tigers had booked a Grand Final Luncheon that the players are expected to attend, they also thought it made more sense to train through rather than return for a club commitment midway through their break.
Some players spoken to by the Herald did not have an issue with Maguire’s tough approach. While the pre-season was the toughest they had encountered, they said, the coach was also mindful to manage their workloads during the season.
An RLPA source said they had been contacted by concerned Tigers players prior to the start of the season.
Maguire knows what it takes to have success and saw first-hand what brutal training sessions did for the ultimate success at Melbourne, Wigan and then South Sydney.
Benji Marshall is one player who was spared training last week as he escaped to Fiji with his family, but the Tigers pin-up was only given an early mark because he is expected to feature in New Zealand’s end-of-season Test against Australia and the Great Britain Lions.
It is a wonderful reward for the 35-year-old who enjoyed one of his best seasons in years during Maguire’s first year at the Tigers’ helm.
The Tigers are still struggling with their cap space for 2020 and Matterson’s shock request for a release has not progressed. The backrower was on the cusp of playing Origin but his push to leave lost him plenty of support amongst the Tigers players.
One player who has appreciated Maguire’s no-nonsense approach was Kiwis fullback Dallin Watene-Zelezniak who was even elevated to captain of New Zealand during last year’s tour of England. Watene-Zelezniak was keen to come to the Tigers mid-season but the club could not afford him.
“Madge [Maguire] gets the best out of me,” Watene-Zelezniak said.
“I have a lot of respect for Madge, you’ve seen what he’s done for the Kiwis and the passion he has for the game, he’s an awesome coach. I’m not in clubland, but from what I’ve experienced, he knows how to get the best out of you.
“He smashed us a few times during the tour, but it was the best thing for me because I got to test how fit I am and it gave me confidence going into a game.”
Christian covers rugby league for The Sydney Morning Herald.