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'The shortest lived head-coaching gig ever': AOB's initial COVID fears

COVID-19 caught everybody by surprise.

One day, life is relatively normal. Just a few days later, the world stood still as lockdowns and restrictions ground society to an abrupt halt. 

As we know, the NRL was not immune to the global shutdown, with ARLC Chairman Peter V'Landys shutting it all down on Monday 23 March, 2020.

For nib Newcastle Knights Coach Adam O'Brien, it almost had him fearing the worst.

As Brett Finch put it, O'Brien would've been "the shortest-lived head coach ever," if the game went under due to COVID.

"I had blokes texting me saying I'd be the most successful coach in history, two from two and then that's it, it's over," O'Brien told the Brett Finch Uncensored podcast. 

"It was really worrying, there were so many unknowns.

"Thankfully Peter V'Landys got on board and got us back on track."

The shift into shutdown was a massive change for O'Brien, who went from holding Newcastle's highest office to being back on the hunt for work, in whatever form it would come.

"For a while there, there was going to be no money coming in," O'Brien said.

"I could easily have gone home and worked for mates, but I thought the moment they say this (the NRL) is back on, I need to be here.

"I only had to do one day on the tools, and I'm the world's worst handy man.

"Sharon (O'Brien's wife) is the handyman in our house."

While it's not everyday a working NRL Coach is forced to look into the outside job market, O'Brien still manages to look back on the experience in a positive manner.

"It's a humbling experience," O'Brien said.

"You're no better than the bricky down the road, because what he's doing is normally harder than what we're doing."

The Knights returned from COVID without skipping a beat, becoming one of the only teams to not be beaten by Penrith and upsetting preliminary finalists Canberra in their opening two games post-shutdown.

While the rest of the season didn't go completely to plan, O'Brien praised the team around him for getting them through the uncertain period caused by the pandemic.

"Beds has been huge," O'Brien said about General Manager of Football Danny Buderus.

"This is his first go at this as well, so both of us have been thrown in, and put COVID in there, but I wouldn't want to do it with anyone else.

"He just goes after it and gets things done.

"When you're going through turbulent times or you're in the trenches, you want guys who are going to stand with you, and I've got that."