TURNING around the worst start to a Reds coaching career in a decade is the brutal necessity for Nick Stiles who has reached his “bury the ball” moment.
The Reds will be searching for a tombstone for rugby in this state unless there is a resounding win over South Africa’s lowly Southern Kings at Suncorp Stadium this afternoon.
Stiles is popular with his players, pours in long hours, is transforming team culture, dishes out tough calls, works on neglected skills and is ferociously Queensland.
For all that, none of the seven coaches who preceded him as Reds boss had a poorer record than his 1-6 win-loss ledger after their first seven games in charge.
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The only other limp to 1-6 was from Eddie Jones in the train wreck of 2007.
Super Rugby is unforgiving on rookie coaches as Mark McBain (2001), Andrew Slack (2003), Jeff Miller (2004) and Phil Mooney (2008) discovered with 2-from-7 starts.
John Connolly’s debut season in 1989 pre-dated Super Rugby when his 6-1 start was on a tour of South America.
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“Definitely, you look at yourself because you analyse absolutely everything about what we must do better,” Stiles said.
Returning ace Quade Cooper said players and coaches were in the fight together when giving Stiles his unconditional backing.
“The group is very resilient and has worked hard on improving the culture so no one is giving up,” Cooper said.
“A sign of a good coach is being able to take the hits and continue to front up for the team as Stilesy is.
“I’ve always liked a coach who goes in to bat for you, someone you can rely on as a person and as a leader of the team.
“That’s one reason I felt he’d be a good coach for us and he still is.
“He’s also tough and ruthless when he needs to be as he’s shown on discipline and some selections in recent weeks.”
Cooper put the acid on himself and other senior team leaders to show the way today against a nothing-to-lose Kings team which seems certain to be chopped for next year.
Stiles admitted he’d addressed several keys areas that had slipped.
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Backing attack from turnover ball and not over-committing bodies to breakdowns were two big ones.
Today, Stiles should borrow a ploy from former New York Jets NFL coach Rex Ryan when players muster at Ballymore before the bus to the game.
In 2010, Ryan dragged unsuspecting players to the sidelines where they helped to symbolically bury a game ball from a disastrous loss the previous week.
The Reds should do the same to bury all memory of last week’s awful 43-10 loss to the Brumbies so they can move on and starting winning. Today.
REDS’ COACHING RECORDS … FIRST YEAR BLUES
(First seven games in Super Rugby)
Year Coach Win Draw Loss Winning Rate
2017 Nick Stiles 1 0 6 14%
2014 Richard Graham 3 0 4 43%
2010 Ewen McKenzie 4 0 3 57%
2008 Phil Mooney 2 1 4 29%
2007 Eddie Jones 1 0 6 14%
2004 Jeff Miller 2 0 5 29%
2003 Andrew Slack 2 0 5 29%
2001 Mark McBain 2 0 5 29%
Originally published as Stiles owner of unwanted Reds record
SOURCE: newsnow sport