Michael Burgess

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

Eyebrows raised at Warriors owner

Sir Owen Glenn (right) started a war of words with Warriors co-owner this week. Photos / NZ Herald
Sir Owen Glenn (right) started a war of words with Warriors co-owner this week. Photos / NZ Herald

Sir Owen Glenn's public outburst has rocked the Warriors this week, but it is not the first time his conduct as owner has raised eyebrows at the club.

Sources told the Herald on Sunday that Sir Owen, who started a war of words this week with co-owner Eric Watson and senior club officials over his disquiet at the way former coach Matthew Elliott was sacked, has been a polarising figure at the club.

His partnership with Watson was meant to take the Warriors to the next level, and Sir Owen was passionate about plans for a rugby league academy, but several incidents have caused consternation, sources said.

Last year, Sir Owen invited all of the players' wives and girlfriends, and some female Warriors staff, on a cruise around Auckland Harbour on his superyacht Ubiquitous.

They were attended by several mini-skirted waitresses and at one point everyone played charades. After the games, prizes were given out, including fur handcuffs and g-strings.

"It was all a bit awkward. I know a lot of us felt a bit uncomfortable and we didn't think it was appropriate," said a player's partner.

There were other issues. Sir Owen described Sonny Bill Williams as a show pony shortly after he came on board as Warriors co-owner in March 2012, making it plain he wasn't interested in bringing the cross-code star to the Auckland club. But Williams was on the Warriors' radar, even though the Sydney Roosters were favourites for his signature, and Sir Owen's statement scuppered any chance of SBW joining his hometown team, said a source.

Sir Owen was also said to be central to the decision to dump coach Brian McClennan with two games to go in 2012.

Other club officials wanted to wait until the end of the season but instead McClennan was removed at an awkward time, giving caretaker coach Tony Iro a hospital pass.

Sir Owen was also a key driver of the infamous press conference in July 2012, when he and Watson announced the club's ambition to become the biggest sporting franchise in Australasia. Other club officials were reluctant to make such a grandiose statement. The team didn't win another game that season.

When asked about Glenn yesterday, Warriors CEO Wayne Scurrah said: "We have had some challenges to deal with but it is not appropriate for me to comment further."

Chairman Bill Wavish would not discuss the issue either: "It's not my job to comment on the behaviour of Sir Owen," he said.

Sir Owen did not respond to a request for comment.

- Herald on Sunday

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