Knights loss leaves Smith to face heat - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Knights loss leaves Smith to face heat

By Steve Jancetic 09/08/2009 06:55:44 PM Comments (0)

Embattled Newcastle coach Brian Smith has been left hoping no Knights board members are card-carrying members of the National Rifle Association after watching his side slip out of the NRL top eight with a 40-8 loss to Parramatta.

"No one in here with a gun is there?" Smith comically offered on Sunday when asked if he felt safe in his job.

"It's not a question I can answer. I'm not in charge of that.

"I've got no concerns whatsoever about that.

"I will keep preparing the team as well as we've prepared for this week and we'll try and come up with something a little better for next week's preparation."

Calls for Smith to step down as Knights coach immediately would no doubt have grown louder after his side's meek display against the Eels.

It's Newcastle's third successive loss on the trot since the veteran mentor announced he would be walking away from the last year of his contract in 2010 to take up a four-year offer with the Sydney Roosters.

The Knights were pushing for a top-four berth before news of Smith's imminent departure became public, but they now find themselves in ninth and facing a tough run in to the finals which includes home games against top-eight sides Melbourne and North Queensland over the next fortnight.

Knights chief executive Steve Burraston said Smith would definitely see out the remainder of the season, one which held so much promise only a matter of weeks ago but now seems destined to end in a third straight year without finals football.

"I wouldn't cast all the blame on Brian at the moment," Burraston said.

"There was enough effort from blokes across the field to show that they are having a dig. It's not a Brian Smith thing.

"It's a decision they've (the Newcastle board) made, they're not going to go back on it. It's not going to happen.

"We see things day to day internally with the club and we see there's no slacking off from Brian's point of view and certainly no slacking off from the players' point of view.

"If we thought putting Brian Smith out next week would turn it around and get us in the eight and win a competition we'd do it."

The strain of the situation was showing on captain Kurt Gidley, who again refused to be drawn on whether the coaching upheaval had affected the players.

"I've had enough of these questions," an agitated Gidley said.

"I do it every week and give the same answer so there's no point in saying it again."

Gidley claimed the answer to his side's woes rested in going back to what they were doing when they jumped out of the gate at the start of the year, a period which also has Smith thinking positively.

"We've done enough early in the year to keep ourselves in position right now. We've got to utilise that," Smith said.

"In the form we're in right now we understand it's not easy.

"There's two choices for us. That's give up or hook in and I think there was enough evidence today to see our boys were trying hard to hook in."

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