NZ Warriors coach Stephen Kearney willingly admits his club's top priority is rebuilding Kieran Foran as a person, rather than extracting its pound of flesh from him on the field.

The Kiwis five-eighth hopes to make his debut against Gold Coast Titans tomorrow, after 12-month ordeal that saw him walk away from rugby league and a lucrative contract with Parramatta Eels.

Foran has endured a perfect storm of off-field issues that included a break-up with his partner and mother of his children, and his close association with controversial businessman Eddie Hayson.

His 2016 season with the Eels ended with a shoulder injury that initially delayed his introduction to the Warriors line-up. He was due to face St George Illawarra last week, but withdrew late with a hamstring strain.


Kearney admits his charge is still a work in progress.

"With the journey he's been on, he's had some issues that have been pretty well documented for everyone to understand," he told Newstalk ZB's Tony Veitch. "He's still a guy with an illness that's something we're very mindful of and we're always working with.

"Just to clarify that, it wasn't about getting Kieran the footballer first ... it was about helping a young man out, certainly for me.

"I've had a long association with him. I've taken him away on a tour with the Kiwis team in 2009, when he was a young 19-year-old.

"So I've had a long relationship with him, as has [Warriors chief executive] Jim Doyle. For us, it was about helping a person whose life had spiraled out of control.

"I honestly couldn't tell you where his life would be right now, if it wasn't for Jim and the football club ... he would be the first to admit that."

Even before he takes the field in his new jersey, the rugby league rumour mill already has Foran fleeing back across the Tasman next season, once his one-year contract in Auckland ends.

Kearney concedes that is a risk the Warriors are prepared to take.


"That is a possibility, but we're working through a process around what we feel is best for the football club moving forward.

"For us, it's a matter of making sure that we exhaust every opportunity to keep Kieran at the club.

"His circumstances are a little bit different to everyone else's and he has young children in Sydney, so we're working through that."

Kearney also denied that Foran's withdrawal from the Dragons loss was some kind of marketing stunt.

"We're not parading him around to not play him, that's for sure," he told Veitch. "He genuinely felt a slight strain in the top of his hamstring, so I don't think I need to justify that - there's no bogus, made-up issue there.

"We wouldn't have invited his family in to present him with his debut jumper and gone through that process for a made-up story.


"He was very, very disappointed when he came into the shed. I was in the shed when he came in and I just could believe his luck - I really feel for him."

Foran's departure forced his coach into a drastic reshuffle of the Warriors back-line that undoubtedly disrupted their chances of victory.

That niggle has recovered enough for Foran to be named in the starting line-up again against the Titans, although halves Ata Hingano and Mason Lino have been named on an extended bench as a precaution.