Who'll take up the NSW poison chalice?
THE NSW coaching gig, arguably the most stressful job in rugby league, is up for grabs again.
Laurie Daley was officially axed from the role on Friday afternoon, with the NSWRL announcing his contract would not be extended following the Blues' 11th defeat in 12 attempts against the dominant Queensland Maroons.
NSW officials will now seek out a replacement to head up a restructured coaching and organisational setup. We look at some of the leading contenders and the likelihood they'd be offered - or even want - the job.
The City Origin coach is the hot early favourite for the role.
A former NSW skipper, Fittler is an Origin legend. When it comes to rep footy, no one is more qualified.
On the coaching front, Fittler had the reins of the Roosters' side from 2007 until he was ousted in 2009.
He later returned to the coaching arena at rep level by leading the City Origin side for six years.
A part of the Blues' emerging program, Fittler took charge of the NSW under-18s and under-16s teams this year.
He's the Blues' greatest ever player and an Immortal of the game. Some would argue there's no greater mind for the game than the man known as Joey.
When it comes to passion, the former Blues skipper has plenty.
But does he want to coach?
When pushed on why he is unable to commit to making himself available he told channel 9 last month; "I don't know if I need that pressure in my life.”
There's no doubt in his brother Matthew's mind that Joey is the right man for the job. He has spoken and written about it at length.
It's impossible to image the NSWRL turning Johns down for the role if he wanted it but that's a question only the champion playmaker can answer.
Long considered a dark horse for the job, the former Manly mentor is well credentialled and still in the mix.
He's skippered NSW and earnt a reputation as one of the toughest little men to pull on a sky blue jumper.
However he's also considered among the front runners for the vacant Gold Coast Titans job.
Gould won 14 of 24 games in charge of the NSW team during two separate coaching stints between 1992 and 2004. He has flatly ruled out returning to the role but you wonder if the Blues would reach out to force a rethink given his credentials.
'Gus' is one of the most experienced and well respected rugby league brains in the business.
He did offer a pearl of wisdom during that same Channel Nine broadcast on who could step up coach the state after Daley.
"I think they've got to rethink this idea that you can't be a club coach and coach State of Origin. I believe you can,” he said.
"I don't think that that's a problem, provided the leadership inside the camp is strong.”
He's served as an assistant for almost 10 years, working under some of the game's greatest minds.
He was the inaugural NSW under-20s Origin coach and took the team to three straight victories.
A former forward who made 12 appearances for the Blues, Pay is regarded as one of the most promising assistant coaches yet to get a crack at the NRL.
He's the coach of the Country Origin side and a former NSW Origin great.
As an assistant to Trent Robinson at the Roosters, the former forward is considered by many as a bright coaching prospect.
Fitzgibbon has also been linked with the vacant Titans role but has since ruled himself out of contention, according to the Daily Telegraph.
His future with the Blues is unclear but the fact that he's been assistant to Daley in Origin might not bode well for any ambitions he has for the top job - especially if the NSWRL want to start with a clean slate.
Having played for the NSW, Cartwright has been part of the Blues system for several years.
The former Gold Coast mentor previously coached the City Origin side for three years and is the current Manly assistant to Trent Barrett.
Hasler's name hasn't come up a lot in discussion about the next coach but the uncertainty over his future with the Bulldogs adds an element of intrigue.
Hasler was coy when asked last month whether he had any ambitions to coach at state level.
"The current format is someone who's not involved in NRL coaching, so at present no footy club coach is an option,” Hasler said.
This one's a real long shot. Andrew Johns' brother Matty has been thrown around as a smokey for the role.
The 46-year-old played four games for the Blues and eight for Australia throughout a career that was probably overshadowed by his brother, but his football brain cannot be questioned.
But the Fox League and Triple M personality emphatically ruled himself out of the running last month.
"You choose your path, and I'm doing breakfast radio. Breakfast radio and coaching don't mix,” Johns told Triple M's Grill Team in July.
"I still do a bit of coaching but for footballers one-on-one. If blokes need a bit of a hand I'll help them one-on-one and I enjoy that.
"I'm doing this five mornings a week, and doing two shows on Fox, and I've got a family as well.
"I haven't got the energy to do it.
"It's more than just coaching ... it is dealing with media, it is dealing with sponsors.”