The Warriors deserve every wild rumour they are getting.

They played like fools at the end of 2015, so are easy prey for the rumour mill.

Steve Kearney as a replacement for under-siege coach Andrew McFadden is about as wild as the rumours should get though. That Kearney was an outstanding Kiwi forward, and has impressive notches on the belt in charge of the national team, is close to irrelevant.

The Australian TV league correspondent who floated the story claimed it was a natural fit, which is presumably based on Kearney's passport.


Nationalities should be irrelevant in coaching appointments. When/if McFadden is chopped, in must come a coach clearly better. There is nothing in Kearney's record which says he is superior to McFadden. Kearney's time in charge of Parramatta was a disaster.

Coaching a representative team is a long way from leading a NRL club.

McFadden, a 100-game NRL player from Australia, knew what would come as the Warriors slumped to a soul-destroying place. The New Zealand sports landscape is dominated by centrally-controlled rugby union, a monopoly which usually lobs trite PR morsels over stout barricades rather than genuinely engage with the media and public. Australian rugby league, with independent clubs in a competitive sports market, is a different beast.

It thrives on stories, both real and not so real.

The Warriors were so bad in their last eight games that McFadden's future was fair game, no matter what Warriors CEO Jim Doyle might say.

First rumour: grand final coach Ivan Cleary will return. Next cab off the rank, Kearney to take over. Unfortunately for McFadden, if he can't turn the Warriors around very quickly, one of these rumours will be true.

The Warriors were stripped of injured and suspended stars in 2015 but the dispirited displays and defeatist reactions were a shock. It is a very tricky position for Doyle, because no matter what he says, any club boss watching what went on MUST have some doubts about his coach.

The Warriors are trying to patch up their squad with middle ranking players like centre Blake Ayshford, to bridge a gap between the leaders and young blokes coming through.
But Ayshford hardly settles the nerves. Once a huge prospect at the Wests Tigers, he is a bit part at the Sharks and has been dogged by criticism of his defence.


The timing of the Warriors late-2015 slump is unfortunate. Outstanding recruits Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Issac Luke will arrive for 2016 just as the coach's position has become surprisingly unstable.

Doyle's signing of the amazing Tuivasa-Sheck from the glamorous Roosters is one of the finest recruitment moves in NRL history. The straight-shooting, impressive Doyle says he sold the move to Roger the Dodger by saying he could become an inspiration for a league revolution in this country. (Although I suspect the high-workrate fullback has a medium turn plan to make the All Blacks, and this is a stepping stone.)

But Tuivasa-Sheck must look at the Warriors and wonder if he should pull the greatest sidestep of his career, and find a way to stay where he is. I've even met the odd league fan who doesn't want him to sacrifice an amazing talent on a lost cause.

That's how low the Warriors' reputation has sunk, again.