NRL: Elliott wants Iro as assistant

Matthew Elliott. Photo / Getty Images
Matthew Elliott. Photo / Getty Images

If Tony Iro wants the job, he will be the assistant coach of the Warriors next year according to new coach Matthew Elliott.

The former Bradford, Canberra and Penrith coach today signed a two-year-contract with the Warriors, replacing the vacant spot left by Brian McClennan and made it clear that he wants Iro's help with the 2013 campaign.

"I haven't spoken to him personally but it will be my strong desire to maintain Tony in the organisation as assistant coach," Elliot said.

"I really want to talk to Tony Iro, I have a great deal of respect for him and look forward to working with him. There will be another assistant as well."

The appointment of Elliott will be a bitter pill to swallow for Iro, who took over from McClennan for the remaining games this season but failed to retain the job fulltime despite strong backing of the players.

The new head coach also brushed off comments by Warriors utility Elijah Taylor that Iro was the right man for the job.

"The players all want Tony to be the coach," Elijah Taylor said yesterday at a Kiwis media session.

"He has been there for seven years now. The majority of our team are Toyota Cup players now and Tony has brought us all through. I don't understand why he doesn't get a shot."

Elliott had no issue with Taylor's support for Iro and said the the loyalty and trust displayed in his statements were positives.

The Warriors haven't made any other appointments, with any new decisions in naming assistants or the new general manager of football to be in Elliott's hands - effectively making him the CEO of football at the club.

Warriors Chief executive Wayne Scurrah said that Elliott was the man that they wanted, after he "blew their socks off" with a formal presentation and "shone the brightest" throughout their coach-hunt.

Billionare owner Owen Glenn admitted that he had never even heard of Elliott two months ago, but said he was now convinced Elliott was the right man for the job and asked that the fans give him their support.

"He's a good bloke so give him a fair go. We want positive thinking in New Zealand, not negative. Especially those with pen and paper, I don't want to have to buy APN," he said, generating a number of laughs from the packed room of journalists at the Sky Tower press conference.

Elliott becomes the club's ninth head coach, including Iro's brief two-game stint, and the fourth Australian to take over the top job following John Monie (1995-1997), Daniel Anderson (2001-2004) and Ivan Cleary (2006-2011).

With the contenders for the job having steadily dropped out over recent weeks while the club delayed making a decision to see if an improved big money offer for Storm coach Craig Bellamy would bear fruit, Elliott was almost the last man standing.

However Scurrah denies that was the case.

"Matthew was not the last man standing. He was the one we wanted. Contrary to reports only one person pulled out. Everyone was live till this week." Scurrah said.

"He's had wide experience and success with a number of clubs, initially making his mark winning titles with Bradford in the English Super League and also taking Canberra and Penrith to the NRL finals a total of five times.

"While we have spoken to a number of contenders, Matthew consistently impressed us every time we met him with his total vision of how our football programme should be structured and run."

While he enjoyed success with Bradford in the early years of the Super League - winning the inaugural 1997 title and enjoying a 72 per cent success rate over four seasons - the 47-year-old was unable to translate that success into the NRL.

Under Elliott the Raiders won 59 of 130 matches, while Penrith won just 49 of 113.

Over nine-and-a-half seasons since 2002, Elliot's success rate in the NRL is 44 per cent.
He did guide the Panthers to second place in 2010, however the club lost both finals matches.

After a poor start to the 2011 season with Penrith, Elliott was told his contract would not be renewed, with newly-appointed director of football Phil Gould determined to recruit then Warriors coach Ivan Cleary. He resigned from the Panthers in June last year, with assistant Steve Georgallis taking over as a caretaker until Cleary's arrival.

Elliott said he's already planned the pre-season with his first priority getting to know the players. That seems to be crucial following the lack of enthusiasm from players via Twitter following today's announcement.

Players were told of Elliott's appointment five minutes before it was announced.

Halfback Shaun Johnson tweeted "Mathew Elliot ay" (sic) while fullback Kevin Locke replied "#AawwwwGummmmOnnnn where's sponge at. I'm #gutted" in reference to Iro.

Former Raiders fullback Clinton Schifcofske however praised the appointment.

"Matt Elliott will be a great appointment 4 the @NZ_Warriors best coach I had in 16 years. Hopefully the players r pro's & buy into his style," he tweeted.

"..which is Work hard, professionalism, accountability &most ofall enjoyment. Only my opinion but qualities clearly lackin in 2012."

- Steven Holloway, Steve Deane and Cameron McMillan

- NZ Herald

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