Chris Rattue is a sports columnist for the New Zealand Herald.

Chris Rattue: Why Warriors coach Elliott should go


Chris Rattue takes a long, hard look at the Warriors' dismal performance and concludes there's only one way to stop the rot.

Matthew Elliott. Photo / Michael Craig
Matthew Elliott. Photo / Michael Craig

Someone has to pay ... the Warriors' record 62-6 loss to the Panthers was the most embarrassing performance by a New Zealand sports team since our America's Cup boat almost sank. Once again, pass the bucket.

The humiliating loss is even worse considering Penrith aren't NRL heavyweights - they were wooden spoon favourites until a week ago. Man-for-man, the Warriors are superior.

As with Brian McClennan's team, players are giving up, a cardinal sin. Coach Matt Elliott has to take some blame for that because his publicly revealed search for new players has surely undermined the current ones.

He was never the right bloke. Elliott has a substandard NRL record, particularly in finals football. His two moderate wins in 10 games this season fits the trend. Under pressure, the Aussie will look for players overseas and wreck the junior development system.

If Elliott stays, juniors coach John Ackland will quit. Ackland's contacts and scouting ability make him more valuable than a failing first grade coach.

The potential damage here could be catastrophic. When Ackland leaves, the problems will be compounded because he can work for rival NRL club(s) to tap New Zealand's best junior talent.

Elliott tried to blind us with BS, unfairly blaming match officials for previous results. Hey, Matt - we may be a league outpost but we ain't that stupid.

The team still does the Brian McClennan late fade, although not against the Panthers when they managed an 80-minute fade.

Rising stars Shaun Johnson and Konrad Hurrell are having their confidence wrecked. The players are culpable, absolutely, but the coach has to take some responsibility.

As eventuated in McClennan's reign, Elliott can't get the best out of Feleti Mateo who should be a fulcrum for attack, a-la how Ivan Cleary had him playing.

The owners must appease the masses, which won't be masses right now.

Last but by no means least ... instinct says Elliott isn't the man to lead this disaster of a club into the promised land. Hanging on to him will only prolong the agony.

Why he won't be sacked

Elliott comes across as someone who can talk his way in and out of most things. The owners - Owen Glenn and Eric Watson - haven't got much of a league clue and chief executive Wayne Scurrah is impotent compared to the hard-bitten, league-savvy bosses of old.

The owners talked up their club under Elliott. Melbourne's Craig Bellamy was their top target, and I understand Cronulla's Shane Flanagan was another approached. Having failed there, and perhaps elsewhere, they publicly enthused over Elliott so their ego now comes into play.

Elliott, in his first Warriors season, and can rightly claim his new broom has yet to take effect. If he survives, expect a fair few comings and goings.

He's inherited lemon signings - Todd Lowrie, the injury-hit Dane Nielsen and Thomas Leuluai are failing to make significant marks for one reason or another.

The union and league codes are not nearly as ruthless as soccer in ditching managers. What's the best approach? There's no way to truly quantify this, but union and league are overly forgiving and patient at times.

Ummmm, errrrr, struggling for more reasons. There certainly aren't any from the football field to use.

My verdict

Sack Elliott now and brave the main consequence, the growing image of a very unstable club. Elliott's team crossed a line against Penrith and there will be no way back. Control of the club must be wrenched from him before the long-term damage becomes terminal. The outlook already looks bleak enough, especially if Glenn and Watson start to nervously finger their wallets when the crowds don't turn up at Mt Smart.

- NZ Herald

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Chris Rattue is a sports columnist for the New Zealand Herald.

Chris Rattue writes about a wide range of sports for the New Zealand Herald. He has covered numerous sporting events for the Herald including Rugby World Cups and the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

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