Richie Barnett on league

Opinion and analysis from former Kiwis captain Richie Barnett

Richie Barnett: Warriors right move for Kearney

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Stephen Kearney's experience from Melbourne will be valuable at the club. Photo / Richard Robinson.
Stephen Kearney's experience from Melbourne will be valuable at the club. Photo / Richard Robinson.

Stephen Kearney would be a perfect fit at the Warriors. The attack has been pretty good but the defence has been a major concern this season. So Kearney jumping into the role of defensive coach would be a real positive.

I'm pretty sure Stephen would take the job. It's a good match for him given he's got the Kiwis as well. His stock has certainly taken a dive after a couple of tough seasons at Parramatta but he will have learned plenty in that time. He's an astute guy, he'll leave no stone unturned.

He's always been that way and he's better than what we've seen at the Eels. His experience from his time at Melbourne, particularly with the structures and discipline in defence, would be extremely valuable at the Warriors.

I think Brian McClennan would be happy to work alongside Kearney but, then again, I don't think he'd have any choice.

If the club's review panel thinks it will be beneficial then it will happen.

Coming off such a superb 2011 season, when all three teams made the grand final, there was huge expectation this season. The results are not there and people are starting to point the finger at the coach and point it quite viciously. That's a bit harsh.

Yes, McClennan is a rookie coach in the NRL but he isn't the only one to have struggled this year. Look at the Roosters. They've gone from 6th to 11th to now sitting 14th under Brian Smith and he's coached close to 600 games in the NRL. Ivan Cleary had six years at the Warriors and now the Panthers are in contention for the wooden spoon, so it isn't all about experience.

As I've said before, McClennan has been dealt a rough hand with an injury situation and lack of depth that has left the team relying on too many inexperienced players.

Four weeks ago this team was still looking good for the finals. Since then we've seen a couple of tough losses that really should have been wins. Then we've seen a couple of truly horrible defeats. The most worrying thing about those games is that the players seemed to have lost interest. Whether that stems from the coach I don't know.

McClennan has said all along that he is accountable and at the end of the day it falls on his shoulders. But I am a believer that players must be accountable too. If I was a player and my coach was under scrutiny I'd be giving everything I could, not leaving him hanging out to dry.

So there are question marks over both coach and players. There may be a flaw in the way McClennan coaches but you've got to ask whether these players are fair dinkum? Are they not playing for the coach or is it just that the injury situation has left the team exposed and each week they are finding themselves in a bigger hole? I tend to believe it's a combination of all those things.

Kearney could help fix the problems. He's a lot like Ivan Cleary. I played with both of those guys and they were incredibly disciplined. That might be something this club needs to go back to. Kearney is vastly experienced in the NRL. He's gone through the best coaches and understands how the game has to be run.

There's no need to go off and chase an Australian coach. There's no reason Kiwis can't succeed in the job. The club does need to sign another couple of experienced players so they have more cover.

I believe that with another year under the belt and with another pre-season behind the younger players the club is in great shape for next season. It is an extremely fine line between success and failure. The club has found that out the hard way this season.

- NZ Herald

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