League: Elliott takes his time over Warriors captain

By Michael Brown

By late next week, Matt Elliott expects he will have his assistant coaches in place and will have added to a squad light on depth and experience at centre and wing. Photo / Dean Purcell
By late next week, Matt Elliott expects he will have his assistant coaches in place and will have added to a squad light on depth and experience at centre and wing. Photo / Dean Purcell

New Warriors coach Matt Elliott won't be rushed into appointing his captain for the 2013 NRL season but Simon Mannering looms as his most likely choice.

The Warriors begin pre-season training next week and Elliott, who was appointed a fortnight ago to take over from the sacked Brian McClennan, said he wanted to see the players in action before deciding who to lead the team.

Former coach Ivan Cleary controversially appointed Mannering to take over from Steve Price in 2010 and he led the club to last year's grand final. There appear few natural alternatives - Micheal Luck has retired, Manu Vatuvei has had limited success and it's still too soon for the likes of Elijah Taylor and Ben Henry - but Elliott wants to find this out himself.

Mannering has said he's keen to continue in the role but will step aside if Elliott thinks it's best for the side.

"As far as the leadership of the club goes, I want to make an informed decision,'' Elliott said at an announcement today of Fernbaby as a new club sponsor. "Everything I have heard to this point, it seems like the right person is in charge. I'm not going to make changes because there's a new coach.

"I have met with Simon three times now as a coach/player and my immediate feeling on Simon is that he's a tremendous guy with a heap to offer the club. I think that he's going to prefer that after the pre-season the captain is selected for the right reasons not because he's the incumbent.

"I'm going to pick the best leader, because that's what a captain needs to be. I can't tell you who that is. I've not coached the team yet. People could find a controversial edge to that but I'm being genuine. Whoever ends up being captain, will have done so because they have displayed the best leadership skills.''

It's not the only decision Elliott needs to make but the biggest one around the shape of the club is whether Tony Iro remains as assistant coach. Iro still has two years on his present deal but is mulling over another offer and is understood to have been upset to miss out on the top job.

He was the players' preferred option and feels ready to step up to a head coaching role but also has a young family and might not want to leave Auckland.

Elliott said he will have two assistants but Iro's decision will have a significant bearing on who they are.

"Tony's future, he's been given time to consider that,'' Elliott said. "I respect that entirely. I have had an couple of good conversations with Tony and he's been completely open with me and expressed where he is.

"The sooner we get the full coaching staff in place, the better. I have a pretty clear vision of what that will look like and I look forward to announcing that in the near future.''

He will also make a handful of announcements around new players. He's previously identified outside backs as an area that needs beefing up and the club have been in discussions to try to lure former centre George Carmont out of retirement.

"I would expect that in the next week we will make three or four announcements in that area,'' he said.

"The amount of high-profile players available at the moment isn't great. I think what people need to recognise is the quality that is already here. It's pretty mind-blowing. Sonny Bill Williams is not showing up but the people we are recruiting are high-quality players.''

- NZ Herald

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