Warriors chairman Rob Croot understands why many have labelled the axing of coach Stephen Kearney as heartless and brutal, but is adamant it was the only course of action once they decided he was not the long-term option at Mt Smart.
In an exclusive interview with the Herald, Croot, who is also the chairman of club owners Autex, outlined the reasoning and defended the timing of the decision.
"I appreciate that it seems really tough with Covid and the boys based in Australia to make the decision now," said Croot.
"We made it fairly clear, even publicly, of our expectations of performance when we took over [as sole owners] at the end of last season. We expected a change and to move forward. We haven't seen that consistency and we have called it.
"[Now] it allows us to go to market and choose the best person to drive the change we are looking for. The timing also allows the new coach to be involved in recruitment for the 2021 season, which is critical."
Croot said there had been concerns with the fluctuating form leading into last Friday night, and the subsequent 40-12 loss to the Rabbitohs was the impetus for a phone conference on Saturday morning between Croot, Robinson and George.
Later that same morning, Croot and George called Kearney, advising him of their decision.
Croot said the unique scenario presented by Covid-19 had been taken into account, but ultimately performance was the final measure. Numerous commentators have labelled the move 'brutal' and 'callous' and Croot says the club hierarchy will take such flak "on the chin."
"I know it seems heartless but there is never a good time for something like this," said Croot. "What you need to do is be honest and upfront with the people who are involved.
"I know there has been speculation that we have had people lined up in the background and I can tell you categorically there has been no conversations with anyone about the future coach of the Warriors.
"From the outside looking in it looks ruthless in the timing but what's the alternative? Sitting on a decision until he gets home, with him stuck in Australia, knowing [ourselves that] we have made a decision? [That] doesn't sit comfortably with me. I would rather call it and be honest and transparent about it."
There has been conjecture in the Australian media that some players may be too distraught to continue, but Croot hoses down that speculation.
"I'd be pretty surprised," said Croot. "I understand that being remote from this is particularly difficult. Players have their own personal choices and if some of them feel distressed enough to make decisions about their future then that is up to them.
"But there is also an opportunity here, and that is what we have told [interim coach] Todd [Payten]. We are certainly not giving up on the season, but we have been careful in talking to Todd. We have no expectations apart from pride. Get the team together and show us what you are capable of."
Croot said the club have started the process of putting together a "wishlist" and the most important criteria for the new head coach, confirming there had already been significant interest expressed.
"We are not in a rush," said Croot. "Part of the reason for the decision making is that now it gives us that opportunity to take that breath.
"There is no timeframe we are working to but ideally we would have somebody lined up fairly quickly, so that person can have due influence over selections and signings for next year."