Warriors managing director Jim Doyle has dismissed suggestions that the club is taking a punt on new coach Stephen Kearney, saying he was their number one candidate.
The long-time Kiwis coach was confirmed earlier this morning as the new man in charge at Mt Smart, with former head coach Andrew McFadden staying on as assistant coach.
Kearney is not an NRL rookie as head coach - he was in charge for the best part of two years at Parramatta - but it was a difficult time for Kearney and he won just 10 of 42 games before resigning midway through the 2012 season.
There were more experienced options available, like ex-Warriors and Penrith coach Ivan Cleary or former Manly mentor Geoff Toovey, but Doyle is confident the Kearney appointment is not a risk.
"I don't think it is a risk at all, it's really positive," said Doyle. "Stephen had a go at Parramatta in the past. I think that was wrong time, wrong place. Like most of us we tend to learn more from adversity than we do with success. Stephen has learned a lot from that time at Parramatta. He's had a lot of success with the Kiwis [and] has worked with a lot of our boys before. I'm very comfortable that Stephen is the right person."
Doyle added that though the Warriors had a shortlist - and had been in touch with several other options - Kearney was always the favoured option.
"He was our first pick choice," said Kearney. "We had various options in front of us, but he was an number one candidate and we are pleased he has come on board."
Doyle said the final decision to replace McFadden had been made after the awful last fortnight of the season, as the Warriors suffered successive heavy home defeats against the Tigers and Eels.
"[During the season] we have been contemplating what is the right thing for the club for the long term," said Doyle. "As you go through that, you are always looking at the different options that you have got. We took into account the different options that we had and felt that it was time for a change and that it when we decided."
Doyle added that Kearney and McFadden caught up last weekend, discussing how the potential coaching arrangement might work. From the outside it looks awkward - McFadden had been explicit in his desire to stay as head coach - but Doyle is confident they can make it work.
"We needed a fresh voice but were conscious of continuity," said Doyle. "This is not just one coach in, one coach out - we are creating something of real substance here.
Stephen and 'Cappy' met [last weekend] and they both agreed this could be a successful part of a team to create success for the future."
"[With Andrew] it shows his desire to stay with the club and it shows his integrity. He agrees that it is time for some fresh thinking but he was keen to be part of it. 'Cappy' just wants to coach [and] stay as part of the club."
264 NRL games, 37 tries
Clubs: Western Suburbs, Sydney: 1992 to 1994, 46 appearances
Auckland Warriors: 1995-1998, 79 appearances
Melbourne Storm: 1999 to 2004, 1 premiership (1999), 139 appearances
Hull (England): 2005: 1 Challenge Cup win, 29 appearances
Kiwis: 1993 to 2004
Test caps: 44 (second in history), 9 tries
Kiwis: 43 tests, 24 wins, 1 draw, 18 losses, 55.81% success rate
2008 World Cup beating Australia 34-20 in the final
2010 Kiwis defeat Australia in Four Nations final
2014 Kiwis win their second Four Nations title