Parramatta players to face the fans at AGM

BRAD WALTER
Last updated 10:35 08/05/2012
Stephen Kearney
QUITTING: Stephen Kearney's time as Parramatta coach is over.

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Parramatta Eels boss Roy Spagnolo insists the Eels players will attend tonight's leagues club annual general meeting as a sign of unity and not so they can face the music from members unhappy with the team's poor form.

Also attending will be coach Stephen Kearney, who Spagnolo said still has the option of bringing in an additional assistant if he wanted to appoint someone.

A meeting between Kearney and Eels directors on Sunday night agreed not to pursue a proposal to bring in former Eels and South Sydney mentor Jason Taylor, who is the Sydney Roosters under-20s coach.

The idea had initially been suggested by Spagnolo five weeks ago but Kearney told him then that he did not think adding another coach to his staff would make any difference to the team's performances.

''I mooted that at a board meeting a month ago,'' Spagnolo said.

''We actually had an extra coach last year, that was Peter Sharp. He is gone and I said 'do you want to replace him, do you want to get someone else' and I just threw [Taylor's] name up.

''It just sort of got momentum from that and I said it doesn't have to be him, it can be anyone else you like and he said 'no, I'm right'. That is all it was.

''There is no way I would ever push a coach with another coach if that would make things untenable. But if he came to me and he said 'I want someone to be a coach', I would say 'that is fine, it is in the budget you can have him'. It would be as simple as that.''

Despite the Eels having won just one of their opening nine games this season, Spagnolo said the board still wanted Kearney to implement a long-term plan to rebuild the club.

''Nothing has changed and at the end of the day it is unfortunate that we are in the position we are in but there is no magic formula to just turn things around,'' he said.

''But we are not that far from clicking. The first half [against Canterbury] was very good - for 32 minutes we were really competitive so we are not that far out of it.''

After playing mistake-free football until then, Parramatta led 12-4 but an incorrect play-the-ball by Mitchell Allgood and consecutive penalties against Justin Poore enabled the Bulldogs to score three converted tries in the six minutes before half-time.

The Eels then collapsed in the second half, prompting Kearney to question the mental toughness of his players at the post-match press conference.

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Kearney and the players are expected to be asked questions by members at tonight's AGM but Spagnolo said he wasn't anticipating a hostile meeting.

''We have asked them to attend but only because the coach is attending and we just thought we would have them all there,'' Spagnolo said.

''They will be there to show we are all united and we are backing the coach. Obviously they back the coach and they will listen to what some members are saying.

''We gave the members the same opportunity two months ago, we had an open forum so nothing is different. We had this planned anyway before we are where we are.

''It is not as if the players have been disciplined and have to come to the meeting, it is something we have always had in our planning because we believe the players should be at any function where the members are there.

''We are united, there are no issues. We are just trying to get the thing right and we are all working hard to do that. We are just looking for answers, I guess.''

-Sydney Morning Herald

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