Help has arrived for Warriors coach Andrew McFadden in the shape of former World Cup-winning All Blacks coach Sir Graham Henry.
The club announced today Henry, who guided the All Blacks to the 2011 World Cup, has been signed up to provide support for the club's NRL squad and football department over the next month. He spent time at Mt Smart Stadium yesterday in a role he agreed to take up several weeks ago.
"I've had an association with Cappy (McFadden) on a social level for quite a while now," Henry said. "I've got a lot of time for him as a coach and I also really enjoy his company.
"We've had some healthy discussions about coaching previously and I'm thrilled to have the chance to be able to work with him, to observe the organisation and to provide some feedback."
The Warriors have been searching for a mentor for McFadden for some time, with All Blacks assistant Wayne Smith, who was also an assistant under Henry, and NSW Origin coach Laurie Daley among those approached. Former All Blacks coach and Warriors director of football John Hart, who also acted as a mentor for former coach Ivan Cleary, also spoke with McFadden on occasions last year.
There has been a feeling McFadden needs more support around him, given this is his first head coaching role and the fact the team have struggled over the past 12 months.
His arrival is timely as the club deal with the fallout from six players who were stood down for breaching team protocol. Manu Vatuvei, Bodene Thompson, Ben Matulino, Sam Lisone and Albert Vete admitted to club officials they had mixed energy drinks and prescription medicine on a night out and were dropped from first grade and test selection. Konrad Hurrell denied drug taking but was also banned as punishment for being part of the late night escapade.
McFadden said Henry's arrival was the result of discussions he'd had with managing director Jim Doyle last year about engaging a mentor.
"I've always been open to the idea of having extra support to help me to develop and improve," said McFadden. "Jim and I have considered a number of options but it was important to take time to find the person who best fitted the position and was available to help.
"In the end we were really fortunate to be able to secure Sir Graham's services. It's a real privilege to have him involved and I know it's going to be hugely beneficial not only for me personally but for the squad as a whole."
Since the 2011 World Cup, Henry has worked with, among others, the Argentine rugby side and the Blues Super Rugby franchise.