Michael Burgess

Michael Burgess is the football and rugby league writer for the Herald on Sunday.

League: Elliott supported Bell in appointment to critical role

Dean Bell. Photo / Renee McKay
Dean Bell. Photo / Renee McKay

It barely raised a mention over the last week but the appointment of Dean Bell as general manager of football operations at the Warriors was an intriguing one.

Bell was previously in charge of recruitment and development at the club, before his latest promotion which was confirmed on Wednesday. The new role had been trumpeted since that infamous press conference in July, when Owen Glenn and Eric Watson announced their intention to create the best sporting franchise in Australasia.

There was a general perception that the role would be an outside appointment but CEO Wayne Scurrah insists that was not a view within the walls.

"That kind of perception was never apparent within the club," says Scurrah. "We like to bring people through and promote from within and will continue to do so. Dean's credentials are impeccable - he is rugby league through and through."

It is a crucial appointment, possibly even more important than the coach.

"Given the issues that the club has, what it has been through over the past year and its current position the Football Operations role is absolutely critical," a prominent New Zealand league identity, who did not want to be named, told the Herald on Sunday two weeks ago. "Forget about the coach - it is that position that is really important and they need to focus on that."

"Dean will oversee everything related to football operationally at the club," says Scurrah, "from our development programme, through to the NYC program, the Vulcans and the NRL side. It leaves Matt to focus on coaching, training and the other football demands that the NRL brings."

While the appointment was announced less than a week after Matt Elliott was confirmed coach, Scurrah is adamant it came after a thorough process and there were other contenders.

"I'm not going to name names but we had discussions with a number of people about the role", says Scurrah. "Matt got to know Dean throughout his own interview process and the two got on well. I think Matt saw that Dean had that potential."

Once Elliott officially came on board, he had the biggest input into who will fill the operations role and quickly plumped for Bell. There are some obvious advantages in the partnership. From his background at Bradford, Canberra and Penrith, Elliott has an extensive range of contacts in both the Super League and the NRL, while Bell has built a relationship with NRL players and agents during his time as head of recruitment. Bell also has vast knowledge of the local scene and a large network of contacts within both rugby and league in this country.

Bell will keep his recruitment role - a demanding full-time position on its own - but will get additional staff and "more than enough support", according to Scurrah, to enable him to juggle both jobs.

Although the new role may look similar to the job that John Hart previously held, Scurrah says they are significantly different.

"John did an excellent job [as Director of Football] but he was also a director on the board and it was a part-time position", says Scurrah. "This new role is a full-time position and we needed a rugby league person in that role".

- Herald on Sunday

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