Best coach: NRL.com experts have their say

Which coach has done the best job in 2019? Some teams have fared better than others, but what about the men with the clipboards. The experts at NRL.com have their say on who's been the best.

NRL.com experts view

Steve Renouf (Maroons legend)

I think Des Hasler has shown what he brings to this club as a coach. This team was disappointing over the past few years and he steps in and makes them winners again. That's where all on the Northern Beaches thinks they should be. Undoubtedly coach of the year.

Brett Kimmorley (Former NSW halfback)

Des Hasler. For a roster that was supposed to finish at the bottom, he has done a great job. Tommy Trbojevic has missed a heap of games, yet they've kept on winning. He has also developed a heap of unknown players into really good first graders. My next choice would be Michael Maguire.

Jamie Soward (Premiership winner)

Des Hasler. He's made them work hard for each other. They're now a team that never gives up on a play. A handful of players are having the best year of their careers at the same time. Just take a look at what Addin Fonua-Blake has done.

Alicia Newton (NRL.com reporter)

Ricky Stuart over Des Hasler by a millimetre. Stuart promised a better defensive effort in 2019 but still had to back that up and the team has. He received a lot of flak last year but has responded in fashion.

Zac Bailey (NRL.com reporter)

Des Hasler. This time last year the club was a mess with a legal battle between club bosses and former coach Trent Barrett derailing their 2018 campaign. Despite minimal changes to Manly's roster, Hasler has transformed his beloved Sea Eagles from 15th-placed strugglers to potential top-four finishers in less than 12 months. 

Margie McDonald (NRL.com senior reporter)

Ricky Stuart. He's taken the team from 10th in each of the past two seasons (2017, 2018) to a top-four side. And it has been done with radical roster surgery. Ricky has 10 players still in his game-day 17 that he had in the 2016 preliminary final side that lost to Storm by two points.

Chris Kennedy (NRL.com reporter)

Des Hasler. The three big improvers are the Raiders, Sea Eagles and Eels. For me, given what the Raiders and Eels were able to achieve under their current coaches in the 2016 and 2017 seasons respectively they really shouldn’t be coming off such a low base – but what Des Hasler has been able to with pretty much the same roster that came 15th last year is truly remarkable. 

Brad Walter (NRL.com senior reporter)

Ricky Stuart. Last year Canberra struggled to win close matches and while the Raiders attack was arguably the best in the NRL, their defence was among the worst. Fast forward 12 months and Stuart has taken Canberra from 10th place to a guaranteed top-four finish by dramatically improving Canberra's resilience in tight matches.

Maria Tsialis (Big League editor)

Des Hasler has done an incredible job this year. There wouldn't have been many pundits who picked Manly in their top eight to start the season, and not only have they clinched a spot, they've tripped up many teams along the way. It's unfortunate they won't have their best squad during the finals series following Tom Trbojevic's injury.

Paul Suttor (NRL.com editor)

Brad Arthur has taken the Eels from the wooden spoon last year to a guaranteed finals berth. He's done it with pretty much the same squad, including a lot of players who are off contract and still playing for a new deal - this "keep them hanging" mentality has worked with several veterans like Michael Jennings.

Mary Konstantopoulos (Ladies Who League)

Craig Bellamy is hard to go past as coach of the year. For so many years people have predicted the demise of the Storm. Not under Bellamy's watch. Even with the departure of Billy Slater, Melbourne have dominated the competition and will be hard to beat in the finals.

Tanisha Stanton (NRL.com reporter)

Ricky Stuart revamped the Raiders 2019 squad with the addition of some quality players and changes made to key positions. The Raiders have been their worst enemy over recent years when it comes to consistency, but this year it's clear to see that Stuart has put more of an emphasis on their defensive structures. 

Lone Scout (NRL Fantasy expert)

Des Hasler will rightly receive the plaudits but Michael Maguire joined a Wests Tigers team that had lost three star players and a coach in the previous year or so. With a large chunk of their salary cap spent on players outside their best 17 he has still managed to get them on the verge of the top eight with a round to play. It’s a significant achievement for a club with just one Origin player.

Troy Whittaker (NRL.com reporter)

Craig Bellamy's ability to sustain excellence at Melbourne is remarkable. After losing Billy Slater and Cooper Cronk in the past two years, some people - including myself - believed the Storm were due to fall. Instead, Bellamy's boys have secured their third minor premiership in four seasons.

Tony Webeck (NRL.com reporter)

His methods and mannerisms may be unique but there's no questioning Des Hasler's coaching philosophy. A roster that looked wooden-spoon worthy in February is now just a Tommy Turbo torn pec from giving the premiership an almighty shake. Hasler has got the absolute best out of every Manly player.

Corey Rosser (NRL.com reporter)

Ricky Stuart. On the recruitment front, John Bateman and Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad​ are arguably the two best buys of 2019, but Stuart's also made better use of his existing talent by making changes like moving Jack Wighton to five-eighth. Right now this side look like they believe they can achieve anything. 

Johnathan Healy (NRL.com reporter)

Craig Bellamy has been the best coach in the NRL for more than 10 years and it's no different in 2019. He lost a heap of experience in the off-season but has wrapped up another minor premiership.

Kenny Scott (NRL.com podcaster)

Ricky Stuart has taken some class imports and built a team that has the mental toughness to grind out a win and the quality backs to polish it off with style. The Raiders now boast the perfect mix of tough defence and attacking flair. Ricky might just be the man to break the drought in Canberra.

Michael Chammas (NRL.com chief reporter)

The transformation of the Eels over 12 months has been somewhat lost in the discussions around Manly and Canberra. What Brad Arthur has been able to do with the Eels has been incredible, considering they won the wooden spoon last year. 

Joel Gould (NRL.com reporter)

Des Hasler has taken Manly from also rans to the finals in the space of one season and without his star player Tom Trbojevic for half of the year. The Sea Eagles are back playing a combination of gritty, uncompromising and expansive football that was their trademark when Hasler was at the helm for two premierships in 2008 and 2011.

 

The views in this article do not necessarily express the opinions of the NRL, ARLC, NRL clubs or state associations.