Written by Stuart McLennan
Photo by Phil Hillyard
Interim Bulldogs head coach Steve Georgallis was a Canterbury junior. Growing up in Kingsgrove he only had to go across the street where St George Dragons, (a Canterbury junior club), were based to play footy as a kid. Like plenty of other promising youngsters living west of Sydney city, he was enticed to the Roosters in his late teens.
When possible coaches are bandied about for NRL roles, the same small group of names is thrown up. It’s an A-list group whose numbers are small. It’s difficult to move into that ‘circle’ unless a club is willing to take a risk and give an ‘outsider’ an opportunity.
Georgallis has coached in an assistant or lower grade capacity at a number of clubs including Penrith, Wests Tigers and Manly before arriving at the Bulldogs in 2017 where he took the NSW Cup team to the finals that year. In 2018 he coached the Bulldogs reserve grade team to a premiership and the NRL State Championship before being asked to be a full time NRL assistant in 2019.
Today must feel like deja vu for Georgie after being in a similar situation in 2011 when Matthew Elliott resigned as coach of Penrith and he was given the interim job.
He won his first two games as coach before Phil Gould revealed he had chosen Ivan Cleary to be the Panthers coach from 2012 onwards. The Panthers went on to win just two of the remaining nine games that season.
As with Penrith in 2011, Georgallis will be required to pick up the pieces of a roster at Canterbury that has been unsuccessful in 2020 with a number of players likely to be moved on at the end of the season.
The Bulldogs are languishing at the bottom of the table with two wins from nine games so anything better than the current situation will surely be appreciated by a club who appears to be in turmoil both on and off the field.
— Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs (@NRL_Bulldogs) July 14, 2020
This correspondent has seen first hand the quality of Steve Georgallis’s coaching as he oversaw the Greece national team qualifying for the 2021 Rugby League World Cup for the first time in history. Greek domestic and heritage players alike have the highest respect for him as a person and as a coach.
Trent Barrett, who parted ways less than amicably with the Manly Sea Eagles, is mooted to be the favourite to take the job while, (surprise surprise), Wayne Bennett has also been mentioned.
Whoever is given the role in 2021 will enjoy the advantage of a clean out and spending spree at the club. It will be a different team wearing the blue and white next season.
Kieran Foran gave Georgallis his endorsement in an interview recently, pointing to his knowledge of the club and relationship with the players.
The Bulldogs could do worse than give Georgie a shot with a full preseason and a boosted roster. I have a feeling he might just join the A-list if handed the opportunity.