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Eels chairman rules out Smith return

Parramatta chairman Steve Sharp says the embattled NRL club hope to announce their new coach next week but ruled out any prospect of a return for Brian Smith.
Eels chairman rules out Smith return
by AAP

By Ian McCullough

SYDNEY, Sept 25 AAP - Parramatta chairman Steve Sharp says the embattled NRL club hope to announce their new coach next week but ruled out any prospect of a return for Brian Smith.

Sharp admits the club are still coming to terms with the shock departure of Ricky Stuart to Canberra earlier this month and had met with Smith, who coached the club for nine years before departing midway through 2006.

The Eels have since gone through four full-time coaches and two interim mentors since Smith's exit and last week fullback Jarryd Hayne said the club's football department has gone backwards ever since.

The 59-year-old has had informal discussions with Sharp about the possibility of taking over in a head of football-type appointment with a coach working under him.

England coach Steve McNamara would have been in contention to succeed Stuart had Smith returned to Parramatta Stadium.

McNamara is keen to return to club coaching after the rugby league World Cup and has made several trips to Australia over the last three years to catch up with his NRL-based players and investigate potential opportunities in this country.

He was in regular contact with Smith, who he employed briefly at Bradford in 2006, and with England during the 2010 Four Nations series.

McNamara is also good friends with Smith's successor at the Roosters, Trent Robinson, who invited him into the coaching box to watch the minor premiers' win over Canterbury in round 15.

However, Sharp said now that Smith was no longer being considered, McNamara wasn't in the club's plans either.

"Brian won't be here next year in any capacity and we haven't met with Steve," Sharp told AAP.

"We're still making enquiries with a few names and still coming to terms with everything that's happen the last few weeks.

"The board will look at all the options, we are still deciding which way we will turn."

Neil Henry, John Cartwright, Tim Sheens and Jason Taylor are among the names also to be linked with the post.

Henry said on Wednesday he's no longer interested with the job and the Gold Coast coach Cartwright has denied being in contact with the Eels.

Taylor had success as a caretaker coach in 2006 when he took the team into the finals after Smith's departure and Test coach Sheens has four premierships to his name with Canberra and the Wests Tigers.

Taylor is currently assistant coach of the Roosters but wants to get back into head coaching having been axed by South Sydney in 2009.

Sharp said there were no shortage of interested parties but admitted still some uncertainty by the board about what type of coach they wanted.

"Do we go for an experienced coach or go with someone who is talented and just needs an opportunity?" he said.

"We'll get back together tomorrow and we will continue in earnest to find the right man. We've done a lot of the hard work and have a shortlist. We hope by the end of next week to have made a decision."

The Eels named Scott Seward as the club's new chief executive on Saturday and Sharp said after a tumultuous five years the club needs to start getting back on track.

"We have a new CEO in place and now we need get the place working like clockwork again," he said.

"The joint has been in a mess and we are now trying to get back to where we belong."


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