NRL axe falls as Tigers’ Michael Maguire and Warriors’ Nathan Brown lose jobs on same day

Michael Maguire has been sacked as Wests Tigers coach just hours after Nathan Brown’s tenure at the Warriors came to an end.

The Tigers informed Maguire on Tuesday his three-and-a-half-year tenure was over, after winning just three of 12 games so far this season. Brett Kimmorley will take over on an interim basis.

Maguire’s exit comes after he only narrowly held onto the job at the end of last season. A second review in the space of nine months was enough to end his tenure, with the club now on the look out for a full-time replacement.

“Wests Tigers sincerely thanks Michael for all his hard work and effort over the past three and a half years,” the club said in a statement.

Maguire was spotted at the Tigers’ Concord headquarters earlier on Tuesday, with players fronting the media still unaware of the drama that was about to ensue.

“We haven’t been told anything. I guess it’s all speculation,” five eighth Luke Brooks said. “Madge has been in and we’ve all come in and it’s just business as usual.”

Brooks, though, admitted a decision on the coach’s future one way or another would probably be helpful to the Tigers.

“It would be good to have some clarity,” he said. “But as players we’re just going to leave that up to the people who make that decision. We can’t worry about that. We’ve got to worry about playing footy. We have to win.”

Maguire’s exit comes on the same day Brown was axed at the Warriors, potentially opening the door for him to walk straight in as Brown’s replacement.

A premiership-winning mentor with South Sydney in 2014, Maguire already has a connection with New Zealand rugby league as coach of the Kiwis, while the Warriors will return to their Auckland home base next year.

Brown met with Warriors officials on Tuesday morning, before they agreed to end his one-and-a-half-year stint as coach early after five straight losses. New Zealand great Stacey Jones has been appointed on an interim basis.

Brown had been contracted at the Warriors until the end of next year, but had already told officials he did not want to move back to New Zealand long-term and could not commit beyond that.

Ultimately though, the club’s poor start to 2022 and Saturday night’s horror outing against Manly meant officials decided to move the coach on far quicker.

“Nathan told us he had made a personal decision that for family reasons he wouldn’t be able to relocate to New Zealand as originally planned for the long term,” CEO Cameron George said.

“We fully appreciate his position and the call he has made. Given those circumstances we agreed we needed to make an immediate change. It’s tough for everyone involved but, in the best interests of the club, we felt we had to go in a different direction now.”

The Tigers’ decision mean there are now three clubs in the hunt for a coach next year, with Canterbury also looking for a full-time replacement for Trent Barrett.

Cameron Ciraldo looms as the most likely option for the Tigers if the Penrith assistant is interested, having been linked to the club last year. Ciraldo has served a long apprenticeship under Ivan Cleary and Anthony Griffin at the Panthers, and would likely be in the position to pick whichever job he chooses.

Former Cronulla coach John Morris could also be an option, having previously played for the Tigers. Shane Flanagan, Paul Green, Kristian Woolf and Jason Ryles are other mentors believed to be caught up in the current coaching merry-go-round.