No pressure to sack Smith: Knights boss - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

No pressure to sack Smith: Knights boss

By Todd Balym 28/08/2007 06:53:05 PM Comments (0)

Newcastle boss Steve Burraston says the club is not under any pressure to sack coach Brian Smith, despite the Knights facing their second wooden spoon in three years.

Burraston said Smith had performed "quite good" under extraordinary circumstances in 2007, including the retirement of star Andrew Johns and the horrific injury toll which also claimed Danny Buderus and young gun Jarrod Mullen.

There is speculation a group of high profile Newcastle supporters, known as the White Knights and including businessmen John Singleton and Jack Newton, had met this week to discuss making moves to have Smith ousted from the club.

But club senior executive officer Burraston, a financial member of the White Knights, says he's been assured by the group's chairman Dick MacLean no moves are being made to interfere with the running of the club.

"Dick assured me that the White Knights do not have a political charter and will not be telling the Knights how to run their organisation," said Burraston.

"There will be no coaching change. We've got a season which has only a few days to go and it's just not going to happen.

"We have a lot of confidence in Brian and our performance this year and I think I'm correct in saying this is probably our equal second (best) performance over the last four years.

"You would probably highlight the need for change and Brian has done that without Andrew Johns for almost a whole season and Danny Buderus for half a season and Jarrod Mullen for a good amount of time.

"To take those calibre of players out plus the injury toll we've had, using up to 37 players, his performance has been quite good."

Burraston said the club is confident Smith had set about the right structures for the Knights to improve and be finals contenders next season.

"We are very positive about next year. We think we have a good roster together and have certainly put the right structures in place," said Burraston.

"Previously we struggled to win a game without Andrew Johns and it was almost impossible for us to win a game without Andrew and Danny (Buderus) and Brian has changed that culture somewhat.

"There's a lot of hype outside of the club as far as Brian Smith goes but he certainly has a lot of support inside the club."

One player who won't be there in 2008 is lock Kirk Reynoldson, the poster-boy of Smith's player clean out.

Reynoldson was left out of the Newcastle side to play Wests Tigers on Friday, ending his chance to automatically trigger a $196,500 contract for next year.

Reynoldson met with the club on Tuesday, his advisor Les Ross in attendance for the first time, to discuss a "mutually beneficially" way of moving forward.

Burraston did not completely shut the door on Reynoldson being a Newcastle player in 2008, but said the club's top 25 squad for next year had been finalised.

"We've agreed to keep the dialogue going and work towards a mutually beneficial outcome for both parties," said Burraston.

"It could be anything. We did say we would keep our discussions confidential and try to keep it as much in-house as we possibly could and I need to respect that.

"We will be exploring various opportunities that were thrown up today from both parties and I guess we need some time to take a breath, have a think about those and come back again and see where we could meet on some middle ground.

"I wouldn't rule anything out. But I don't want to speculate on what it would be either."

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