Michael Hagan

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Michael Hagan (born 12 August 1964) is an Australian professional rugby league football coach and former player. He currently works as the director of football at the Newcastle Knights and as an assistant coach under Mal Meninga for the record-breaking Queensland rugby league team. A Queensland State of Origin representative half, he played his club football in Australia with Canterbury-Bankstown (with whom he won the 1988 and 1985 premierships) and Newcastle (whom he captained), as well as in England with Halifax. He went on to have a successful coaching career with Newcastle (winning the premiership with them in 2001) and Parramatta, and was also selected to coach the Queensland Maroons for two State of Origin series before becoming Meninga's assistant coach. Hagan was inducted into the Newcastle Knights Hall of Fame in April, 2012.

Playing career

The younger brother of former Test centre Bob Hagan, Hagan was graded with Canterbury in 1983.[1] Although best suited to play at five-eighth or halfback, the presence of Terry Lamb and Steve Mortimer forced Hagan to play much of his career with Canterbury as a "fill in" at fullback or lock forward. Hagan played a role filling in for Lamb in Canterbury's upset win in the 1985 grand final.

In 1988 Hagan was injured in a car crash but recovered to play in Canterbury's three finals, scoring a try in the grand final.[1] With Mortimer retiring, Hagan might have had a chance for a permanent position in the halves, but by this time he had already decided to move to Newcastle where he signed with the Knights.[1]

Hagan's craft and guile at five-eighth led to a rapid rise in the Knights' fortunes: they advanced from fourteenth to sixth (losing a play-off for fifth) in two seasons between 1988 and 1990. He took over Newcastle's captaincy in early 1990 and, despite fluctuating team fortunes and being moved to the less suitable centre position to accommodate the emerging Matthew Johns in his last season, finished his career with the record of having not missed a match in five season with the Knights.

Hagan also played 92 games for Halifax in 1984-1985 and 1993-1995. During his career with Newcastle, Hagan played five State of Origin games for Queensland, deputising for Allan Langer in 1989.

Coaching career

Hagan was the media manager for the Hunter Mariners during the Super League war in Australia, and subsequently joined the coaching staff with Mal Meninga at the Canberra Raiders, coaching the President's Cup team in 1998 and First Division in 1999.

In 2000 Hagan became the first division coach at the Newcastle Knights, and succeeded Warren Ryan as coach in 2001. He became the first former Knights player to coach the club, and later that season led them to victory in the 2001 NRL grand final, becoming the first coach since Phil Gould to win the premiership in his first season.

Hagan coached the Queensland State of Origin team in 2004 and 2005. Although he was unable to win a series, in both seasons the series went to a deciding game, only for the Maroons to lose. During both years, Hagan coached the likes of Slater, Lockyer, Thurston, Thaiday, Smith and Bowen (whilst having to coach against Buderus, Simpson and Johns at the same time), most of whom have since gone on to play for Australia, and most of whom have featured prominently in Queensland's eight-year Origin reign. Hagan resigned as Queensland coach in 2005 to concentrate on coaching the Knights given their poor season in which they finished at the foot of the ladder for the first time in the club's history. His successor, Mal Meninga, has since gone on to win eight consecutive State of Origin series for Queensland. In 2010 Hagan returned to the Queensland side as an assistant coach.

In 2005, after losing their first thirteen games of the season, the Knights finished with the wooden spoon. In early 2006, Hagan signed a contract to coach the Parramatta Eels from 2007 to 2009, finishing his tenure at Newcastle at the end of the 2006 season. He is the longest serving coach in Knights history, and guided the Knights to finals appearances in four of his six seasons, more than any other coach in the team's history.

In 2007 the Eels showed much improvement under Hagan, spending much of the season at 3rd position on the ladder (only behind the salary-cap cheating Melbourne Storm and bitter rivals the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles) before a surprise defeat against his old club the Newcastle Knights (who were at the time coached by Brian Smith) triggered a late-season form slump. The Eels toned up for the finals by handing what was to be the Brisbane Broncos' worst-ever defeat at the time with a 68-22 mauling (this despite the Eels trailing 22-6 at one stage) in the final round at Parramatta Stadium. The Eels advanced to the finals finishing in 5th position which meant a tough away trip in the first round to face the 4th-placed New Zealand Warriors in New Zealand. The Eels managed to upset the Warriors 12-10 despite a late charge from the hosts. This earnt the Eels a home semi final match against long-time rivals the Bulldogs. The Eels also won this match comfortably, earning them a preliminary final showdown with the Melbourne Storm at Melbourne's Telstra Dome. The Eels were gallant in defeat, losing 24-10, whilst Melbourne ultimately went on to win the Grand Final.

Following a relatively disappointing 2008 season, Michael Hagan ended his head coaching role at the Parramatta Eels citing family reasons and health.

In 2010 he returned to coaching, being appointed the Maroons assistant coach.[2]

The Daily Telegraph

Hagan has made journalistic contributions to 'League Central' section of The Daily Telegraph. He provides his opinions on current League issues as well as evaluating team form and performances.


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