If you've ever read a fantastical story on April 1 and suddenly clicked, you'd know exactly how I felt when reading the news that a US consortium was poised to buy the Warriors and take them to America.

Except I checked the date on the top of the page and we're still six weeks away from the that day of year.

So if this story is true, and it appears to be a genuine scoop sourced largely from the mouth of the horse, then alarm bells should be ringing not just in the offices of the NRL, but in every league-loving household in Auckland.

The potential new owners sound, well, bonkers.


Warriors owners and administrators have a short and spectacular history of over-reaching and under-delivering. Trace a wobbly old line from foundation CEO Ian Robson's financial excesses, to Tainui's singular disaster where their idealistic vision ran smack-bang into the NRL's corporate realism, to Owen Glenn's vision of a Marvel Comics-like superclub stacked with superplayers.

In those madcap traditions follows Richard Fale and his NFL-backed consortium who want to conquer America and make "the championship game in six or seven of the next 10 years".

Here's an idea: try first to win back Auckland again. The Warriors need Auckland; America does not need the Warriors.

The Warriors are a damaged brand in the only town that should really matter to them.

They are stuck in a six-year on-field performance rut and membership is shrinking faster than Fletcher Building's reserves.

Auckland is where the Warriors' past, present and future lies. Any club vision that involves taking games away from the city should be viewed with something between suspicion and disdain.

This is a club that doesn't need high-profile owners and it doesn't need high-profile management. It needs that most difficult of balancing acts: a short-term on-field strategy that will deliver obvious improvement married to a long-term strategy of sustainability.

The Warriors came into the competition with all the inherent advantages of a one-team town but many of these advantages have flipped 180 and are now distinct disadvantages.

It has been a long time since the Warriors were the first or even second-choice destination for the oval-ball talent that comes off the Auckland schools talent train.

Anecdotally, I hear that Australian clubs, and more specifically the scouts/agents that act on their behalf, have done a great job selling Pasifika players a vision where they will train and play across the Tasman without the pressure and expectation of extended families and church tithes.

The Warriors are up against 15 other talent-hungry NRL clubs, nine Australasian Super rugby franchises and a whole bunch of NPC academies, but they simply have to sharpen their recruitment and development departments. Just how much interest in this more mundane facet of ownership will the former and current NFL players who are apparently backing this bid have?

The NFL does not have to worry about this. The colleges develop the players and the franchises draft them. It is an entirely reactive system. Here, the Warriors have to be all-in from the grassroots up to re-establish themselves as a viable destination for the best local players.

That's not to say they can't do it, and Fale's vision for Pasifika ownership is a noble one (the imbalance between Pacific Island athletes versus Pacific Island coaches/administrators and owners is appalling), but Fale needs to do more work outlining a genuine strategy and spend less time (read, no time) selling an American fantasy.

There is one other point worth considering about Fale's ownership credentials.

The NRL has done a considerable amount of work rehabilitating its image in the community after a series of tawdry scandals.

In 2014 it launched a Diversity and Inclusion policy aimed at eliminating homophobia from the game and last year took the bold step of endorsing same-sex marriage in Australia.

In 2013, Fale, a Republican member of the Hawaiian House of representatives, was a vocal opponent of same-sex marriage in that state.

His personal opinion might not be an indicator of what the club's attitude to Auckland's thriving and influential LGBT community might be under his stewardship, but it would be worth the NRL doing their due diligence.


It is silly to get too worked up about the results of single T20 matches, which often swing on the brilliance of single players, but Tuesday night's victory over England was important for a couple of reasons.

A combination of losing form at the wrong time and silly scheduling meant this international season felt like it had come screaming to a halt. All the good work of December and early January felt like a lifetime ago.

New Zealand need to make the Eden Park final of this weird T20 tri-series to defibrillate the season and winning in Wellington was an important step in the process.

And then there was Kane.

His cleansing 72 from 46 balls broke a nine-innings slump in the shortest format and steadied the HMS Williamson.

Incidentally, it is not his longest international 50-less drought. He went 11 T20 innings between February 2012 and March 2014 without a half-century, though he batted the bulk of those innings at No 4 or lower, and it did include three not outs.

Between October 2010 and October 2011 he went 11 ODI innings without a 50, though that also included three not outs.

The longest test drought he has endured between 50s is seven innings.



This is the culmination of some outstanding, yet awful, reportage from the Guardian on "industrial scale" child abuse in English football.

Barry Bennell found guilty of sexually abusing youth footballers

Astonishing journalism from the estimable David Grann of The New Yorker, which includes this passage: "His eyes had sunk into shaded hollows. His fingers were becoming numb. His Achilles tendons were swollen. His hips were battered and scraped from the constantly jerking harness. He had broken his front tooth biting into a frozen protein bar, and… looked like a pirate. He was dizzy from the altitude, and he had bleeding haemorrhoids." It's long, so give yourself a good half hour to read.

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