Is there life after football for Mieni?
By GREG WHITE
OUTGOING Coffs Harbour coach Scott Mieni has some serious thinking to do over summer.
For the first time in 17 years Mieni is at rugby league's version of a 'loose end' without a team to coach or play for.
"Don't tell your readers I've retired as I'm too young and love the game too much to do that," the one-time New South Wales Country boss said.
"The priority is to spend time with my young bloke and take a step back from the game.
"Then I'll talk to a few people and see what the future holds."
Mieni has always been an open book during his three-year tenure despite a number of issues that have complicated his life.
Firstly, a life-threatening illness struck soon after his appointment but thankfully, that's behind him.
"Actually, I feel great," he offered.
"There are regular checks with the doctors and the reports are all coming back positive."
Then there were the backstabbers.
His perceived lack of success at Advocate Park following a coaching career where one triumph followed another set tongues wagging around Group 2.
Boasting a resume almost two pages long with 'premiers' or 'grand finalist' alongside many of the teams he'd coached pre-2004, the wins dried up soon after arriving in town.
When that happens at a club like the Comets where success is a right of passage, the whispers can prove a major distraction.
"Coffs is a very hard club to coach," Mieni said bluntly.
"Often you don't know you're stepping on toes till you hear back later."
And that's the closest he'll come to paying out on critics.
An invitation to comment further is met stony-faced and in fact, he goes out of his way to pay tribute to the club.
"I've got genuine affection for the place more than many can understand," he said.
"The Comets are run by good people and despite us finishing off the pace there are many good footballers.
"A lot of honest blokes gave their all."
But when another former coach Daryl Rando is mentioned another prolific winner away from Coffs who had a similar local record to Mieni's - his face becomes flushed.
"I've heard it said Daryl was like me and wasn't much of a coach," Mieni said of the man who won his eighth first grade premiership this year.
And when certain names are mentioned, names of players who also had difficult relationships with Rando he rolls his eyes in recognition and there's a twitching of the mouth.
After a moment's silence, he says: "With some people, Daryl and I had a lot in common."
For the record, few coaches have come to the local area with Mieni's credentials.
As a player, there were 60 grade games over three years in the NRL with Gold Coast.
In the bush his first start out of juniors was a reserve grade game at Lithgow before an unbroken run of 385 top grade appearances till retirement.
As a coach, he led his state, Country, numerous Groups and Divisions.
He's coached four first grade premiership-winners and collected a Clayton Cup with Cobar.
Yet in three local seasons his best result was a loss in the 2004 minor preliminary semi.
There were 18 wins, one draw and 32 losses from 51 starts.
Despite these trying times, Mieni remains upbeat.
"Rugby league is about respect," he said.
"You give it and expect it in return.
"I'm still close to my fellow coaches and almost all the players I've rubbed shoulders with."
And he's full of respect for his replacement Aaron Dyett.
"The Comets have made a fantastic choice," Mieni said.
Rumours suggest Mieni may get more involved with juniors or even become a Group 2 referee.
"As soon as anything happens I'll let you know," he grinned, visibly relieved to see there's a life after first grade coaching.