Having spent many hours in NRL post-game press conferences, I can tell you they can be as joyous as a tooth extraction.
Yesterday (9 August), coach Ricky Stuart found out the hard way how costly they can be, with the NRL banning him from coaching the Canberra Raiders this weekend, slapping him with a one-week suspension and a $25,000 fine for his post-match outburst about Penrith’s Jaeman Salmon.
With so much at stake, emotions are, more often than not, running high after a game. This is especially so with a losing coach. In most cases, these coaches would rather be anywhere else.
Press conferences with a losing coach are usually highlighted by journalists nervously looking at the floor with the coach and player shuffling in their seats waiting for the first question.
Frequently there are moments of uncomfortable silence before the first question is asked.
Regularly it’s a full toss, with questions like, ‘what did the coach think of the performance of the team?’ before expanding onto other topics.
Potential curve balls occur when a journalist asks what the losing coach thought about the refereeing during the game.
The coach, preferring not to be faced with a fine, often fires a question back at the journalist, asking them what they thought.
By this stage, it has become exceedingly uncomfortable and the response from the journalist is usually a nervous one.
I have been on the end of many an uncomfortable exchange with a losing coach and it can play on your mind for days.
It is not an experience I miss.
Before Super League and the introduction of set media conferences and media managers with each team, it was pretty much a ‘free for all’ in the dressing rooms.
I vividly remember trying to find a coach from a losing side for an interview who hid in the bathroom until the media had given up waiting for him.
These days, it is far more staged.
Under the NRL rules, both the winning and losing coaches, as well as a player from both teams, need to be in attendance in a room separate from the change rooms with sponsors’ signs as the backdrop.
In the AFL they have become a featured event, which is televised live with the journalists often becoming the feature, not the coaches, as they spar back and forth.
There is less of this in the NRL.
In NRL media conferences, apart from the odd outburst as we saw with Ricky Stuart on the weekend, the whole event can be reasonably sterile in terms of newsworthiness.
The likelihood is that coaches will say one thing in a press conference and another to the players in the sanctity of the dressing room.
This is why I question the worth of the post-media conference involving the losing coaches. They are on a hiding to nothing.