Pressure mounts on Wests Tigers coach Mick Potter

A rift with his players has left head coach Mick Potter's role at Wests Tigers under threat. Picture: GETTY IMAGES

A rift with his players has left head coach Mick Potter's role at Wests Tigers under threat. Picture: GETTY IMAGES

RUGBY LEAGUE

Former grand final coach Brian Smith has recommended Wests Tigers employ a head of football as pressure mounts on Mick Potter over his job.

Potter has two games to show he has the support of his players before the joint venture's board meets on July 31 to discuss the coaching situation.

Smith spent five weeks at the club recently to review the Tigers' football operations from a grassroots level upwards, but he was not engaged to examine Potter's credentials.

However, the underlying feedback to Smith from various figures within the Tigers was that there was a lack of communication from the coach.

Smith, the coach while Potter captained St George to a 1993 grand final loss, has not made any recommendations about Potter's future.

Six weeks ago, Potter was close to winning a two-year contract extension but performances fell away. An extension is now unlikely as relations between he and senior players sour.

Fairfax Media understands that poor communication between Potter and the players has resulted in growing discontent.

It is understood Tigers' boss Grant Mayer will meet the players on Friday in a bid to clear the air.

There is a concerted push by the players for assistant coach Todd Payten to be promoted to the head role from next year. Like Potter, Payten is comeing off-contract, while fellow assistant David Kidwell is contracted until the end of 2015. Payten and Kidwell were added to the NRL staff this season.

Had Potter made the top eight last year he would have been given an automatic contract extension and pay rise, but that deal lapsed when the Tigers struggled, winning just seven games to finish second last on the ladder in his first year as coach.

However, a top-eight finish this year could still save Potter.

Mayer said the Tigers had sought "independent input" surrounding the club's coaching position.

"Running concurrent to the push to the finals is the board's decision on our coaching structure and head coach for 2015," Mayer wrote to Tigers members on Thursday.

"We've had independent input to this process and a number of players and staff have been consulted. The results of this review have highlighted many areas to address and we will do so privately and without public comment. These decisions will not be rushed and will be made with the best interests of Wests Tigers in mind. We understand that people want to know what is happening ... but delicate and important decisions like this should not be influenced by any external sources."

The Tigers, who on Sunday host the Bulldogs, have a growing injury list. James Tedesco, Braith Anasta, Liam Fulton and David Nofoaluma are all sidelined.

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