A famous American NFL coach once said “There are only two types of coach – those who have been sacked and those who are about to be”.

A famous American NFL coach once said “There are only two types of coach – those who have been sacked and those who are about to be”.

Cronulla’s John Morris went from the latter group to the former this week – prompting us to reflect on some of the weird and whacky coach dismissals down the years.

Norm Tipping (St George – 1956)

Tipping led the Dragons to the first of their record 11 straight premierships and rightly expected to be retained. But at the board meeting to decide the coach, as soon as the door was closed, legend has it that former club secretary Frank Facer punched him in the face, knocking him out and abruptly ending his time at the club.

Bill Gardner (South Queensland – 1995)

Gardner holds the dubious distinction of being sacked before losing a game. He was appointed Crushers coach in 1993 for their debut season but after poor results in trial matches early in 1995, was sacked and replaced by Bob Lindner.

Jason Taylor (Souths – 2009)

At the Rabbitohs’ end of season drinks day, Taylor was playfully showing his martial arts skills to David Fa’alogo. The fiery second-rower didn’t see the funny side and punched Taylor. After an inquiry, both were sacked by the club.

Anthony Griffin (Penrith – 2018)

The Panthers were right in the hunt for the title a month before the finals when the board ordered general manager Phil Gould to sack Griffin. The Panthers’ finals challenge crumbled in the ensuing weeks – but Griffin has now re-invented himself at the Dragons.

Tim Sheens (Cowboys – 2001)

A three time premiership-winner at Canberra, Sheens moved to the Cowboys but couldn’t reproduce the magic. The Cowboys announced he had taken stress leave – something that was news to Sheens – before finally kicking him out. Sheens had the last laugh, winning a fourth title in wonderful style with the young Tigers team in 2005.

John Morris (Sharks – 2021)

John Morris

Morris inherited a mess in 2019 after the sacking of Shane Flanagan. Despite massive dead wood in the roster, he got the Sharks to the finals in both his first two seasons as coach. Early in his third season this week, he put his case to the board for the final year of his contract – and 24 hours later he was out.

Jack Gibson (Souths – 1979)

Universally regarded as the greatest coach in league history, Gibson coached the Roosters to back-to-back premierships in 1974-5 before moving to Souths where he had a far more modest roster. He missed the finals in his two years at the club and was sacked – before taking Parramatta to a rare three-peat in 1981-2-3.

Wayne Bennett (Brisbane – 2018)

If Gibson was the best coach league has known, Bennett wasn’t far behind. A god-like figure in Brisbane, he was sacked for breach of contract for speaking to players from rival club South Sydney, who he had agreed to coach in 2020. Bennett moved to Souths a year early while Souths coach Anthony Seibold went the other way – a change that was to prove disastrous for the Broncos.

Greg Hawick (Norths – 1985)

A former international, Hawick had poor results in his season and a half at the Bears. The final straw came when two players almost came to blows while standing behind the tryline after the team conceded yet another try. At a time when mid-seasons sackings were unheard of, Hawick was axed that night.

Bob McCarthy (Souths – 1994)

A club legend, McCarthy was appointed as coach by the board but didn’t enjoy the support of club supremo Alan Jones. After he underwent hip surgery, McCarthy hobbled onto the field with crutches while Jones ordered the players to the opposite end of the ground time and again. McCarthy eventually resigned for ‘health reasons’.

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