NRL: Elliott faces sack - report

By Michael Brown

Matt Elliott. Photo / Greg Bowker
Matt Elliott. Photo / Greg Bowker

The Warriors are set to sack coach Matt Elliott, according to an Australian media report.

No one from the Warriors returned calls tonight, including chief executive Wayne Scurrah and Elliott himself, which only fuelled speculation.

A report in Australia's Courier Mail suggested Elliott had been told the club wanted to "move in a different direction'' after the side's dreadful 37-6 defeat to the Sharks on Saturday and that a formal announcement would be made in coming days.

The heat was certainly being applied to Elliott, and it's known he had some short-term targets to achieve to keep the owners happy.

"Tough day at the office @NZWarriors ... however definitely some questions to be answered,'' owner Eric Watson said on Twitter.

Watson and co-owner Owen Glenn want to turn the Warriors into the ``best single sporting franchise in Australasia'' and have invested heavily to try to achieve that. Glenn, in particular, is said to be decisive and doesn't stand for mediocrity.

It didn't take them long to dispense with Brian McClennan, who was dismissed even before the end of his first season in charge in 2012.

Top coaches demand respect from and have the right chemistry with their players and there have been rumblings of discontent within the Warriors' playing group.

Elliott's not the one making the mistakes on the park - and the Warriors have made plenty this season - but he is the most accountable and who needs buy-in from his players. The Warriors' attitude is a big concern - there is a massive difference between their best and worst performances - and that often comes back to culture.

"That's a legitimate question and one that needs to be asked,'' Elliott told the Herald immediately after the defeat to the Sharks when asked if he felt his players played for him. "This inconsistent tag is not unique to me, either.''

The Warriors have been inconsistent throughout their history but seemed to be turning a corner under Ivan Cleary. They went through some dry patches when he was coach but often their defeats were by close margins.

Elliott has also endured some narrow losses but also witnessed some heavy defeats, and often against middling sides, like the 62-6 hiding dished out by Cleary's Panthers and the 28-4 defeat to the Sharks last season. Their performances in their three defeats in 2014 have been inept and they have the worst defensive record and second-worst points differential in the NRL.

Elliott's contract expires at the end of the season and Wigan coach Shaun Wane has repeatedly been linked with the Warriors - something strenuously denied by the club. Andrew McFadden is the most likely to take over if Elliott is sacked but the club are likely to go after a proven coach.

They chased Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy aggressively in 2012 before he turned them down and they switched their attentions to Elliott.

They are one of the best resourced clubs in the NRL, with millions having been spent since 2012 on facilities and support staff, but the only true measure is what happens on the field. And that was Elliott's responsibility.

- APNZ

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