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‘He’s given us his word’: Tigers probe Maguire over Cowboys rumours

“From our discussions with Michael, he has assured us that he won’t be tendering any offers or expressions of interest from other clubs during the course of his tenure with the Wests Tigers. He’s a quality person and he’s given us his word, so I take him on that. We have absolutely no concerns whatsoever with all the scuttlebutt.”

It comes as Todd Payten revealed on NRL 360 on Monday night that he had rejected the full-time Warriors job offered to him last week. Payten has his eyes on the Cowboys, where he coached previously as an assistant to Green.

That’s my decision and I’ve made it. It was tough for everyone. The club was shocked and disappointed.

Todd Payten on turning down the Warriora

“My wife’s father just started chemotherapy,” Payten said on NRL 360. “That was at the forefront of our mind. Obviously, with the COVID thing, for her to travel back and forth is very, very difficult. That was a big part of it. That’s my decision and I’ve made it. It was tough for everyone. The club was shocked and disappointed.

“Moving forward, my focus is on getting the side prepared from week to week. There’s another opportunity that’s on the table … that is the Cowboys. I’m not in any process at the moment, they’re just aware of my interest.”

For the Tigers, halfback Luke Brooks looks set to return to the starting side, alongside Benji Marshall in the halves, when Maguire announces his team on Tuesday afternoon for this weekend’s clash with Newcastle.

The Tigers are also expected to welcome back Joseph Leilua from a four-game ban for his off-the-ball high shot on Penrith fullback Dylan Edwards. Prop Russell Packer is also due back from suspension.

Maguire, who has one more year on his deal with the Tigers, was scathing of his team’s performance against the Warriors last Friday night as he faces the possibility of missing the finals for the fourth consecutive year as an NRL coach.

The premiership-winning coach is under enormous pressure to end the Tigers’ nine-year finals drought. Despite a number of improved performances in 2020, a lack of consistency continues to plague the joint venture club.

Maguire has been ruthless with his selections so far this season, dropping halves Marshall and Brooks at different stages throughout their campaign.

The axe is now hanging over the head of fullback Adam Doueihi, who is under pressure to keep his spot in the team as the coach searches for the right formula in the spine.

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In Maguire’s defence, his players have responded each time he has wielded the axe, however the impact hasn’t been long lasting enough to change a culture of mediocrity that has developed at the Tigers over the past decade.

Hagipantelis admitted the results weren’t good enough, but doesn’t believe there is an issue with Maguire’s coaching philosophy or his relationship with the players despite the club winning just one of their past five games.

“From our perspective the players are responding well to Michael’s vision,” Hagipantelis said. “He’s achieved success before and he knows what is necessary to achieve success going forward. The players are responding to that. We’ve won one of our last five. We recognise there needs to be a very significant improvement in attitude and performance, and they are the things that Michael has spoken openly and publicly about.”

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