The Warriors are close to re-signing head coach Stephen Kearney on a new long-term deal that could keep him at the club until at least the end of 2022.

Kearney is off contract at the end of next year but discussions between his agent and the club to extend his time in Auckland began months ago.

The Herald understands the Warriors have tabled an offer to keep Kearney at Mt Smart Stadium for at least three more years beyond 2019.

It's hoped both parties will agree terms before Christmas and complete the paperwork early in the New Year.


Warriors chief executive Cameron George is determined to lock in Kearney for the long haul to provide the club with the stability necessary to continue their upward trajectory after their top-eight finish this year.

"For me, Stephen's the future here," said George.

"I'm in the middle of trying to work out what Stephen's future looks like, and his manager and I are working through that.

"He brings to this club attributes you look for in not only a player, but a leader, and he demonstrates them every day.

Warriors CEO Cameron George would like Stephen Kearney to stay on at the club. Photo / Photosport
Warriors CEO Cameron George would like Stephen Kearney to stay on at the club. Photo / Photosport

"He's got a high level of professionalism and integrity, he demands that in his staff and players, and he has a terrific group of people around him. Having Stephen here for the long-term can only be great for the club."

Ahead of his third campaign in charge since arriving at the Warriors in 2017, the proposed new deal would leave Kearney poised to equal or surpass Ivan Cleary's stint of six seasons (2006-11) as the longest-serving coach in the club's 25-year history.

Less than a month into pre-season training, Kearney is relaxed about his future plans and remains committed to the Warriors.

"S***, yeah, definitely," he said.


"Obviously I've invested a fair bit of energy into the club.

"It's not something that I'm anxious about at the moment. We'll see. I'm confident something will get sorted but I don't know when that is going to be. I'll leave that up to my agent."

After Cleary's departure, the Warriors suffered from constant upheaval after appointing three coaches — Brian McClennan, Matthew Elliott and Andrew McFadden — over three years.

Fans were given little to cheer during Kearney's first season at the helm when the Warriors finished 13th to miss the finals for the sixth year running.

Despite his success as Kiwis coach, critics were quick to point to his poor run in charge of Parramatta as evidence the Warriors had gone down the wrong path yet again.

Dramatic improvement in the team's performances this season shocked almost everyone, as the Warriors won 15 of 24 matches, finishing just two points behind minor premiers the Roosters, to finally break back into the top-eight playoffs.


Kearney's naysayers have largely been silenced and while across the Tasman, the NRL coaching merry-go-round has affected almost every club from South Sydney to Brisbane, his potential departure from the Warriors has never been touted as a possibility.

It's now accepted that he and the club are a natural fit.

Kearney understands better than anyone the fickle nature of coaching and knows constant improvement is required each year.

The Warriors had reason to celebrate after making the NRL playoffs. Photo / Photosport
The Warriors had reason to celebrate after making the NRL playoffs. Photo / Photosport

Retaining Kearney will not only give the club, players and fans certainty, but also provide the Warriors with the stability to help general manager football Brian Smith and talent-spotting guru Peter O'Sullivan in their efforts to recruit players.

"We've made some pretty quick advances but it's about making sure we have that consistency," said Kearney.

"We're putting in a process here. When I first came to the club, my goal was to have kids playing our game in New Zealand wanting to play for the Warriors first.


"Brian and his team are helping put a programme in place that is going to encourage that, to build the culture here."

George has faith in Kearney's ability but it's imperative the side continues to progress.

"We're certainly out to create a stable environment to achieve the best results but the promise I can make everyone is that mindset will never compromise the professional standards required to win an NRL premiership," George said.

"The onus remains on everyone, Stephen included, myself, every player and staff member, to get the best results we can for our fanbase."