Wests Tigers chairman Lee Hagipantelis has defended the board’s decision to extend Michael Maguire’s contract despite speculation he won’t see it out, claiming the move was essential in providing “stability” to the joint-venture outfit.
Maguire has two years still to run on a contract that was extended last December which, if he sees it out, would make him the second longest-serving coach in Tigers history behind Tim Sheens. There has been an expectation that the internal review the club is conducting will result in his sacking and that may yet be the case. However, sources with knowledge of the situation are adamant that outcome is far from a fait accompli.
The lack of a standout replacement, the costs associated with finding one during a difficult economic situation and the need to start a rebuild afresh are heavily weighing on the club’s decision makers.
Maguire has made his pitch to the board, Sheens is assisting the process in his new role as head of football from England and a final decision is expected next week.
The decision to re-sign Maguire has come under scrutiny after a 13th-placed finish, but Hagipantelis maintains the right decision was made.
“It was absolutely appropriate at the time to secure his services and ensure stability within the organisation, which is an important element in recruitment and retention,” Hagipantelis said. “I don’t think the board has any regrets.”
Tigers captain James Tamou and fellow forward Luciano Leilua have come out strongly in support of Maguire, with the input of senior players likely to play a role in a decision on the coach’s future.
Hagipantelis defended the decision not to outsource the review to an independent body.