Malcolm Boyle: Surviving NRL takes real work

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Craig Bellamy knows to take the media at face value. Photo / Getty
Craig Bellamy knows to take the media at face value. Photo / Getty

With former Kiwi coach Graeme Lowe, I was part-owner of the Auckland Warriors in the mid-1990s. While our tenure stopped short of fisticuffs with other club owners in a London bar (Eric Watson v Russell Crowe, 2002), Lowe and I both ended up in coronary care units of local hospitals as the pressure mounted.

Here, in no particular order, are 10 tips for the new coach Matt Elliott, and the "refreshed" owners of today's New Zealand Warriors.

1. Kiss goodbye to your private lives in season and beyond, including meals in restaurants, TAB visits, football and all other social functions.

2. Get to grips with Twitter, Facebook and all other social media. Accept that thousands of people out there want a continuing conversation with "the boss" and believe it is their right to have your time, day or night. It's also a useful tool for feeling the pulse of the players, most of who are under the misguided impression that it is somehow confidential and sacrosanct from the media.

3. Be prepared for at least one tearful confession from a player during the year. Will usually start with "I realise I have let down my parents, my grandparents, my family, my whanau, my team mates ... ". The obligatory response runs: "We realise we have a responsibility and the most important thing now is to ensure that the player is put back on the right track."

4. To measure how the season is going at any time during the year, check your own hairline. Nothing more revealing than a quick look in the mirror at the advancing grey or receding hair. Next stop, a telephone call to Martin Crowe for a hirsute makeover.

5. Be prepared for a quick course during the year on what it is to be a Kiwi Warriors supporter. This will usually mean:

i) Being given an understanding of what it's like to be continually on the end of bad benefit-of-the-doubt calls;

ii) Being penalised all too often for credibility on the fifth defensive tackle;

iii) Watching interminable replays of Warriors tries for the video ref to identify the most minor of infractions;

iv) Being constantly reminded that the Aussies invented the game and there's no way they are going to cut a New Zealand side any slack on the field or in the judiciary room.

6. Buy a bigger briefcase because as the commentators suggest, you've always got to take the dressing room with you. Sadly, this appeared to be a major shortcoming for the departing coach who saw a season fly out the door with three minutes to go against Manly. Player disgruntlement reached an all-time high as one disastrous result followed another.

7. Urgently find four Australian players with the courage and tenacity of Micheal Luck, Jason Death, Robbie Mears and Kevin Campion, who might not be doing much this year. Sign them immediately.

8. Learn to participate in the haka and at least how to hum the New Zealand national anthem. You'll be surprised how many times a day you will see or hear these national icons and be expected to know what's happening.

9. Learn to love Mt Smart Stadium and support any initiatives to stop the Warriors being moved or interlopers invited in.

10. Don't believe everything you read in the media - just ask Craig Bellamy.

- Herald on Sunday

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