HE’S not yet out the door yet, but all signs point to South Sydney coach Michael Maguire shipping out of the Rabbitohs’ den.
Under contract at Souths until the end of 2017, the reigning NRL premiership coach has had no shortage of suitors come for him as the Rabbitohs struggle through a difficult title defence, punctuated by a 47-12 hammering at the hands of the Brisbane Broncos ($3.75 second favourites to win the NRL premiership with sportsbet.com.au) last Friday night.
The Newcastle Knights, already out of the finals race, are seen as Maguire’s most logical destination, with reports emerging that the club has had discussions with his representatives, but it looks like Souths are going to drive a hard bargain, today refusing to let him out of his contract.
“To put an end once & for all to a limping dog of a ‘story’: Madge ain’t going nowhere,” Rabbitohs chairman Nick Pappas tweeted.
But multiple reports have speculated that the interest from Newcastle is more than just an idle fling, with Maguire on a short list of contenders.
Perhaps a change of scenery would be good for the embattled coach, who called the performance against the Broncos “unacceptable”.
“We were poor,” Maguire said.
“Simple as that.
“Our standards dropped throughout periods of the game.
“We didn’t show the adversity that I know was within this team.
“We have to turn it around.
“We’ve shown how we can defend.
“That wasn’t the way South Sydney defend tonight.
A suspected broken leg to star John Sutton compounded the woe for a team that is now seventh and now rated a gaudy $23 chance to win the premiership with Sportsbet.com.au.
And they have perhaps the toughest task in rugby league when they match up with top side Sydney Roosters, who are the $3.25 title favourites, this Friday night.
“We play against a team that’s been playing very well for quite some time,” Maguire said.
“We’ll focus on our preparation leading into the week.”
The Roosters pumped the Many Sea Eagles ($501 for the premiership), 46-10, just to enhance their title favouritism ahead of the final round this weekend.
They need to beat the Rabbits to finish on top, or hope Brisbane loses against the Storm if they can’t get the job done and they will be crowned minor premiers for a third year in a row.
The Broncos can nick the minor premiership if they beat Melbourne and the Roosters lose.
The Melbourne Storm caused a minor shock when they knocked over the North Queensland Cowboys ($5.50) in a low scoring affair, 14-6, the men from the south shortening in to $13 for the premiership.
The fifth placed Storm need to beat the Broncos and hope the Sharks lose to Manly and they will nick fourth place.
The Cowboys can’t finish lower than third, but have a slim chance of leap frogging Brisbane into second spot if results go their way.
Cronulla ($11) did what it had to do against the Parramatta Eels, the Sharks getting home 35-28 in a high scoring affair.
The Sharks could finish as low as seventh, so they have plenty of reason to get the job done against Manly.
Canterbury eked out a tougher than expected 20-18 victory over Newcastle and it is a $7 fourth favourite to be the last team standing in 2015. The Dogs can finish fourth if they beat New Zealand and results go their way, but somewhere around fifth to seventh is more likely.
The only other team in the market is the St George Illawarra Dragons, who are rated a $34 chance after they fell agonisingly short against the Gold Coast Titans, 28-26.
The Dragons can still miss – if they lose and Manly win, they will swap eighth and ninth.
Is the NRL’s number one caller on the way out?
In other NRL news, it looks like the voice of the NRL, Ray Warren, is going to hang up his prized tonsils as the competition’s number one caller.
Known as ‘the Voice of Rugby League’, the 72 year old is out of contract at the end of the current television deal and has hinted that he won’t be going on.
“I’m under contract until the end of the current deal,” Warren told a newspaper.
“My plan has always been to keep working while I am capable of doing the job.
“The moment I think it’s getting on top of me I’ll give it away.
“After a health scare earlier this year it’s really a day to day thing.
“I certainly don’t want to be one of those people who go one season too many.
“I’d hate to think I could go for too long and damage my reputation.
“No one is indispensable or irreplaceable.
“One day I’m going to retire … and it will probably be at the end of this deal.”
Our friends at CrownBet.com.au reckon he’s all but done and dusted, releasing a market on “who will take over the Rabbit’s Warren”.
And Fox Sports commentator Warren Smith is the man rated most likely to fill the considerable shoes of the legendary caller at $2 with the bookie.
Triple MMM man Dan Ginnane is another likely, coming in at a $5 second favourite.
Warren’s number two Ray Hadley would seem obvious, but his work on radio precludes him from providing the job with the time it would take. Consequently, he is only at $8, the same quote as number three Andrew Voss.
Sadly, the girls are rated rank outsiders, with Yvonne Sampson, Erin Molan and Kelli Underwood each quoted at $1001 to one.
NRL Premiership market
Sydney Roosters ($3.25)
Brisbane Broncos ($3.75)
North Queensland Cowboys ($5.50)
Canterbury Bulldogs ($7)
Cronulla Sharks ($11)
Melbourne Storm ($13)
South Sydney Rabbitohs ($23)
St George Illawarra Dragons ($34)
Manly Waringah Sea Eagles ($501)
Who will take over the Rabbit’s Warren?
Warren Smith ($2)
Dan Ginnane ($5)
Matt Thompson ($7)
Matt Russell ($7)
Andrew Moore ($7)
Andrew Voss ($8)
Ray Hadley ($8)
David Morrow ($10)
Peter Stirling ($51)
Graham Hughes ($51)
Jimmy Smith ($51)
Jason Costigan ($51)
Joel Caine ($51)
Yvonne Sampson ($1001)
Erin Molan ($1001)
Kelli Underwood ($1001)
NRL Round 26 early odds
Brisbane Broncos ($1.50) vs. Melbourne Storm ($2.60)
Sydney Roosters ($1.40) vs. South Sydney Rabbitohs ($2.95)
St George Illawarra Dragons ($1.60) vs. Wests Tigers ($2.35)
North Queensland Cowboys ($1.25) vs. Gold Coast Titans ($4)
Cronulla Sharks ($1.55) vs. Manly Waringah Sea Eagles ($2.45)
Canterbury Bulldogs ($1.05) vs. New Zealand Warriors ($10)
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