The Herald understands that negotiations between chief executive Stephen Humphreys and Sheens are so far advanced that last night’s board approval, the final hurdle in the way of a deal, means the signing of the contract is a formality, giving the Tigers a big boost before tomorrow night’s clash with South Sydney.
Humphreys, who has been negotiating with Sheens since late last year, recommended the board re-sign the game’s longest-serving coach, and the directors gave in-principle approval. Effectively, Humphreys now has board approval to finalise the deal, and, with Sheens having all but decided to extend his tenure with the club, it looks a done deal.
Sheens’ signature will end the speculation surrounding his future and will ensure the players are settled and happy. Five-eighth Benji Marshall has played under only one coach in the NRL team and told the Herald recently he wanted the club to sign Sheens until for the remainder of his career. Marshall is contracted to the club until the end of 2015 but will be content, like the rest of the players, with a two-year extension for the 622-game coach, who was off contract at the end of the season.
Humphreys is a huge fan of Sheens’, and it was always assumed that provided the coach was happy, he would re-sign. There had been links between Sheens and South Sydney but they died down in recent months as the club chased Wayne Bennett. Souths are still fighting for Bennett’s signature, along with the more highly fancied Brisbane and Newcastle, but Souths’ back-up now seems to be an untried head coach, at least in the NRL, Wigan’s former Melbourne assistant Michael Maguire.
Sheens coached the Tigers to their only premiership as a merged entity, in 2005, but had come under pressure after the club failed to reach the finals in four consecutive seasons. Sheens signed a one-year contract last season, but after the club’s success last year, Humphreys began negotiations to extend his tenure.