Talking Sport - Nobby must be a contender

Brian Noble is among those tipped to take over from Royce Simmons
Brian Noble is among those tipped to take over from Royce Simmons

SAINTS’ decision to show head coach Royce Simmons the exit door earlier this week didn’t exactly come as a total surprise to me.

I had a whiff that something was afoot when I asked the club for chairman Eamonn McManus’ reaction to the home defeat against Hull FC nearly two weeks ago.

The depature of James Graham has made an even bigger impact than many predicted

The depature of James Graham has made an even bigger impact than many predicted

It was met with a stony silence – the first hint in my opinion that the Aussies’ job was already under threat.

Then came the defeat at Bradford on Saturday night and the writing was on the wall.

Unfortunately, Simmons has paid the ultimate penalty for lack of success on the park in a sporting age when results – and nothing else – seem to matter.

Some may say that Mr McManus has been too ruthless, particularly as the season is still in its infancy and a lot can happen between now and October.

But knowing Eamonn as I do, he will not have made this decision, along with his fellow directors, without a great deal of soul-searching and thought.

Obviously, he feels it is the right decision at the right time but only what evolves in the next six months or so will determine whether it will be looked on as a master stroke or an act of folly.

Like all fellow Saints’ fans he will have been frustrated by the club’s poor form, especially when it has coincided with the move to a new stadium.

Optimism was sky-high, supporters thought more success would follow as a matter of course, but as a line in one of Robert Burns’ poem says ‘the best-laid plans of mice and men oft go astray.’

Why everything has gone so wrong it difficult to comprehend and, while one man doesn’t make team, the departure of powerhouse prop James Graham to the NRL left a huge gap which Saints haven’t plugged, despite signing several new players.

His natural enthusiasm and insatiable will-to-win invariably rubbed off on the team-mates around him – sometimes turning matches on their head – but this kind of leadership is only really evident this season in skipper Paul Wellens’ displays week-in and week-out.

It will also be interesting how acting head coach Mike Rush, the club’s high performance manager, and new assistant coach and former skipper Keiron Cunningham go about trying to revive Saints’ fortunes.

Rushie had a spell as assistant to coach Daniel Anderson during his trophy-filled time at Knowsley Road a few years ago and, while Keiron is only a learner in terms of working behind the scenes, his huge playing experience will be invaluable to the club in these difficult times.

Now the million dollar question is: Who will succeed Simmons?

Will it be an in-house appointment, or will Saints look elsewhere at a time when not too many top coaches are available?

One name, however, does spring to mind ... former Great Britain, Bradford Bulls, Wigan Warriors and Crusaders coach Brian ‘Nobby’ Noble.