NRL: Warriors have target in mind

By Michael Brown

The Warriors have one name at the top of their hit-list as they search for a new coach, and are prepared to take an aggressive approach to ensure they get their man. Photo / Getty Images.
The Warriors have one name at the top of their hit-list as they search for a new coach, and are prepared to take an aggressive approach to ensure they get their man. Photo / Getty Images.

The Warriors have one name at the top of their hit-list as they search for a new coach, and are prepared to take an aggressive approach to ensure they get their man.

The identity of that individual is a matter of considerable conjecture. Various names have been offered, including Melbourne's Craig Bellamy, Kiwis' coach Stephen Kearney, Melbourne assistant David Kidwell, outgoing Eels' coach Brad Arthur, stand-in Warriors' coach Tony Iro, Canberra assistant Andrew McFadden and former Warriors' coach Daniel Anderson.

Warriors' chief executive Wayne Scurrah remained tight-lipped on the identity of their target but admitted they had someone in mind, and two or three others who will also be sounded out to replace Brian McClennan who was sacked this week after a run of six-straight defeats.

The club have not shied away from talk about chasing a 'supercoach' - it would match the ambitions of their owners Owen Glenn and Eric Watson - and aren't put off by the fact many of the top coaches are under contract.

They will move as swiftly as possible and hope to be close to formalising an agreement within a fortnight.

"We are not being restrained by anything at this stage," Scurrah said.

"Yes [one name is on top of the list]. I think there are two or three others, and Tony [Iro] has an opportunity to show us some things in the next two weeks. Let's wait and see on him as well.

"We are after the best we can get. If we can get a supercoach ... we haven't been told not to look for a supercoach."

Plenty have already shown interest in the job, and agents started contacting them about possible candidates once the Warriors started on their losing streak. It's normal business around a struggling team and helped convince the club to act.

"That's one of the reasons we made the decision [around McClennan]," Scurrah said. "It became apparent what we needed to do. We made the decision to act now because we can't afford to waste two weeks. If we were in the chase of making the eight there is no way it would have happened."

Bellamy would be a coup and he might be looking for a new challenge after a decade at Melbourne, but he will come at a considerable cost and is under contract for another season. It's possible he could join forces again with Kearney, who was his assistant at the Storm before taking over the reigns at Parramatta, but might not want to leave Australia.

Kearney was already in talks with the Warriors last weekend about working as defence coach alongside McClennan, and has also been linked with a return to Melbourne, but looms as a leading candidate on his own.

He declined to comment today, saying he had been in McClennan's position during his time at the Eels and, out of respect to McClennan, didn't want to discuss his intentions. Complicating matters is his role as Kiwis' coach and next year's World Cup.

"It's really up to Stephen," Scurrah said. "He clearly knows the job is available. We will no doubt have a conversation at the right time and update his interest."

Kidwell couldn't be reached for comment but former Australian international Matthew Johns believed he was the front runner, despite his inexperience.

"My mail coming out of New Zealand is that they're having a look at Stephen Kearney but the favourite to get the job is actually David Kidwell," Johns told Sydney radio station Triple J.

Scurrah believed the Warriors' job was one of the most attractive in the NRL - they are the only club in New Zealand, a first premiership would create history, aren't owned by a leagues club, are commercially sound and have one of the best development programmes - on top of the money they could offer.

"The uniqueness of the club could be one of the most attractive things," he said. "The right coach could see this as a challenge he just can't resist."

That's what the Warriors hope, anyway.

- APNZ

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