Former South Sydney coach Michael Maguire (L) will replace Ivan Cleary in charge of the Wests Tigers. (AAP)
The NRL’s coaching carousel has taken its next stop with Ivan Cleary released by Wests Tigers and Michael Maguire confirmed as his successor for the next three seasons.
In rugby league’s worst kept secret, Cleary is now free to join his son Nathan at Penrith on a five-year deal this week, while Maguire returns to the NRL fold to continue the Tigers’ rebuild.
Michael Maguire NRL record
South Sydney (2012-2017)
- Matches: 153
- Win rate: 55.6 per cent
- Finals series: 4
- Grand finals: 1 (2014)
- Premierships: 1 (2014)
A premiership-winner at South Sydney in 2014 and with a winning record of 61 per cent in both the NRL and English Super League, Maguire is viewed as well-credentialed enough to release Cleary from the final two years of his deal.
“Ivan oversaw a period of significant change at Wests Tigers and his work will leave a positive impact on the club,” Tigers chair Marina Go said.
“This was a situation not of our making but I’m proud of the professional manner that the club has conducted itself [in].
“I believe we’re now in a very strong position to move forward over the coming years.”
Wests Tigers tweet: OFFICIAL – Wests Tigers are pleased to announce that Michael Maguire has been appointed as the club’s head coach!
A noted hard taskmaster, Maguire turned the Rabbitohs from perennial battlers into a premiership-winning force in his six years at the club, taking them to the finals in his first four seasons.
He will have a similar challenge ahead of him at the Tigers, who finished ninth last season amid Cleary’s rebuild, but missed the finals for the seventh-straight year.
“I plan on building on the strong foundation that has been put in place and work closely with the players’ leadership group to build a stronger organisation on and off the field,” Maguire said.
“The biggest appeal in taking on this role is being able to work with the leadership that has been built on and off the field at Wests Tigers.
“I want this club to be viewed as a long-term successful club that everyone wants to be a part of and this will involve staff, players, families, members and supporters.”
Maguire will continue his role with the New Zealand national team, a role handed to him after he was sacked by Souths at the end of last year.
He is also expected to return in time from the Kiwis’ tour of England for the Tigers’ first main day back at training on November 12.