David Skipwith is the Herald's rugby league reporter

NRL: Andrew McFadden eager to play his part in new Warriors coaching setup

Andrew McFadden insists he has no issues working as an assistant to Stephen Kearney, the man who replaced him in his job as Warriors head coach.

McFadden was today axed from his post with a year remaining on his contract after nearly three seasons at the helm of the Warriors, but has been kept on to work with Kearney, along with club legend Stacey Jones and a third soon-to-be-announced assistant.

Despite making clear his desire to continue in the head coaching position next season, McFadden is excited about the opportunity and dismisses suggestions his presence and personal ambitions could undermine the former Kiwis coach.

"I understand the decision that's been made, I was a part of that," said McFadden. "I've spoken to Stephen. I've met up with him and had a good sit-down with him. I'm sure that would have been a concern for Stephen but I can assure everyone that my role as an assistant coach will be to support him 100 per cent.

"I feel really excited. I've worked really hard in the last two-and-a-half years and feel like I've laid a foundation for this club. But it is time for a new voice, some fresh ideas and I certainly still want to be a part of this club.

"I said all along that I still have something to give and this role is perfect for me right now."

It is not the first time McFadden has been open to working with Kearney, with the 38-year-old having been briefly appointed to an assistant coaching job with the Kiwis in early 2014.

The arrangement was short-lived, however, when McFadden was appointed Warriors coach and took over from Matthew Elliott after five rounds of the 2014 NRL season.

Kearney downplayed any perceived awkwardness around him retaining the man he effectively usurped on his staff and said it was an obvious decision to utilise McFadden's skills and experience.

"He was a logical choice," said Kearney. "I certainly don't have a problem linking up with Cappy [McFadden]. He doesn't have a problem with it.

"[He's] been with the group for three or so years and done some great work there so it was an easy choice and I'm looking forward to working together with both him and Stacey."

McFadden still harbours ambitions to be a head coach and said the new coaching structure would enable him to further develop his skills. He also believed his time in the big seat made him an ideal candidate to provide Kearney with the right assistance.

"The experience I've got as a head coach is invaluable for me and it will make me a better assistant coach to Stephen. I know first-hand the support a head coach needs and intend to be fully aligned with Stephen and make sure I do a really good job for him."

Central to Kearney's plans will be back-rower Simon Mannering, who last night was named Player of the Year a record fifth time in his 12-season career at the club. The 30-year-old is the only player in the club's history to win the premier award more than twice, Steve Price earning the accolade in 2006 and 2007 and Ben Matulino honoured in 2012 and 2015.

Hooker Nathaniel Roache was Rookie of the Year, halfback Shaun Johnson the winner of the People's Choice Award and retiring Radio Sport commentator Allen McLaughlin was a popular recipient of the Legacy Award.

- NZ Herald

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