David Skipwith is the Herald's rugby league reporter

League: Daley asked to mentor Warriors boss

Andrew McFadden. Photo / Sarah Ivey
Andrew McFadden. Photo / Sarah Ivey

Warriors coach Andrew McFadden has sought the advice of New South Wales State of Origin coach Laurie Daley as he prepares for the most important season of his young NRL coaching career.

After last year's disappointing campaign, which saw the Warriors lose their last eight matches to miss the finals for the fourth year running, McFadden and club managing director Jim Doyle began identifying football figures he could turn to for advice and mentoring.

Daley and McFadden are friends from their playing days in the halves at the Canberra Raiders through the late 1990s and the pair spent time together in Auckland over Christmas for their first exchange of ideas and footballing philosophies.

"I just spoke to Jim about [speaking with McFadden]," said Daley. "I'm a mate of Cappy's [McFadden] and he was looking for someone, but I just said to him, 'I'm always available to have a chat'.

"He's a friend of mine, Andrew. I caught up with him at the Boxing Day races and had a yarn and a couple of beers. Because we're friends as well, it's always easy for Andrew to pick up the phone to me."

All Blacks assistant coach Wayne Smith was among others considered for the mentoring role, which is not a fulltime or official position, but Daley's extensive experience in the 13-man game made him an ideal candidate. It's understood John Hart spoke with McFadden on occasions last year.

"I think it's good for me to have someone to bounce ideas off. It has to be the right person and someone I feel comfortable with," McFadden told Newstalk ZB last year. "It just has to be someone who has been at the top level for a long time and really understands coaching and understands team sport."

McFadden believes he has absorbed valuable lessons from a difficult 2015 season that will make him a better coach long-term and is confident about the direction of the club.

"I feel like I'm in much better shape. Certainly I learned a lot from last year," he said last month. "I really feel like we've made a big difference and the changes we've made have set us on the right direction.

"I feel a lot stronger. I went through some hardships at the end of last year, it was a tough period. But it's certainly given me a lot more steel in myself and I really feel like I'm prepared and ready to go this season."

The 38-year-old is the NRL coach under the most pressure heading into the upcoming season -- the club were forced to repeatedly give him their backing last season. With marquee signings Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Issac Luke arriving to further boost a squad containing Kiwis halfback Shaun Johnson, captain Simon Mannering, NSW back-rower Ryan Hoffman and an abundance of talented outside backs, expectations are high for the Warriors.

"Talking to him, he's really confident about where they're going and I know they're training really hard and you'll get a good look at them at the Nines this weekend," said Daley.

"They're a team that a lot of people fear but the big thing is consistency and that's what they've got to find. He's very excited about how they're going so that was a good sign."

- Herald on Sunday

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