Nathan Brown says Mick Potter is one of the most loyal people he has ever met.
But it is not until you ask the out-going Knights assistant coach whether he is bitter about being let go and replaced by Brown at the end of the season that you get a true understanding of what the head coach really means.
“Look, I’m disappointed but I’m not bitter at all,” Potter told the Newcastle Herald this week.
“We have been through some pretty tough times together here in Newcastle over the past three years and I guess it would have been nice to be here when things turned to enjoy the cream on top.
“But in a lot of ways, we are very similar in our methods and Browny needs a point of difference I think. So it’s probably not a bad call from him to be honest.
“He’s decided to make a change and I can understand why.
“I understand what he needs to do and what he needs, whether it’s a big strapping wrestling sort of coach or whether it’s an astute coach that has other abilities that talks a different way to how I come across.
“As I said, he just needs a point of different and as a head coach, you just need to keep mixing it up or you keep getting the same old message.”
Potter’s take on the situation won’t surprise those who know him well.
The former Dragons captain, who won the Dally M Medal in 1991, has been mates with Brown for 25 years since their playing days together at Kogarah.
Prior to coming to Newcastle with Brown in 2016, they worked together during Brown’s coaching stint at the Dragons.
They have both coached at St Helens in the English Super League and no-one is more aware of the fickle nature of coaching than Potter.
He has been a head coach in three different countries and his much-publicised top grade stint at the Wests Tigers in 2013 and 2014 that ended in his controversial sacking would have steeled him for just about anything.
“I wasn’t too disappointed with the way that one finished up at the end to be honest with you,”he said.
“It was tough going through it and I thought we were making a fair bit of progress there but I had quite a few things to deal with and I had some people in the organisation who probably weren’t rowing the same way as I was rowing.
“You don’t need that in your organisation.”
Which explains why Potter has been totally on board with the way Brown and Head of Football Darren Mooney have managed to handle what’s been a difficult rebuild.
“It’s the best job in rugby league, assistant coaching,” he said.
“You haven’t got the pressure and the accountability of selection and the accountability that the media demands and the issues surrounding the board.
“It’s a tough old gig being a head coach and hats off to Browny. He’s been around the mill and he’s got very good connections and he’s doing a good job here.
“It’s going to be a promising year next year. I think they have made steady progress and Browny has made some good signings.
“It all bodes well for next year and down the track.”
That he will not be here for the better times, including continuing the mentoring of brilliant young fullback Kalyn Ponga, after going through the worst of it, is where the big disappointment lies for Potter.
“It’s a little disappointing in that sense,” he said.
“I think the future here is really bright. Tautau Moga coming back, Slade Griffin coming back – I think they have made some astute signings with Edrick Lee, Jesse Ramien and Tim Glasby in the middle and I don’t think they are finished there.
“Probably all the really top liners are probably gone but as you’ve seen last year, Mitchell Pearce came up and there might be something like that as the season gets closer.
“There is way more improvement left in some of the young guys but right at the moment, we still need more first graders in the team so it remains to be seen how the rest of the recruitment goes.
“That is the key.”
As for what he is going to do next, Potter has already put the coaching feelers out and Brown will be singing his praises elsewhere.
“I know what I have done here at the Knights has been of value and now I just need to move on and find something else,” he said.
“I still think there is a passion there to continue on.”
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