The Warriors are reportedly close to finalising the shortlist for their next head coach to succeed Stephen Kearney.

The Daily Telegraph reports the Mount Smart club has narrowed down to five candidates – Rabbitohs coach Wayne Bennett, former Knights coach Nathan Brown, Storm assistant Jason Ryles, England coach Shaun Wane, and current interim Todd Payten.

The panel who will select the club's next mentor consists of CEO Cameron George, owner Mark Robinson, chairman Rob Croot and club legend Simon Mannering.

Brown's time as an assistant with the club this year makes him an expected choice. Aside from a disastrous tenure at the helm of Newcastle that delivered a 26 per cent win rate, Brown previously led the Dragons to four NRL finals appearances.

Nathan Brown is one of five candidates reportedly on the Warriors shortlist to succeed Stephen Kearney. Photo / Photosport
Nathan Brown is one of five candidates reportedly on the Warriors shortlist to succeed Stephen Kearney. Photo / Photosport

Bennett – a seven-time premiership winner – joins Payten as the only active NRL head coaches on the list.

However, the 'supercoach' told the Daily Telegraph last month he has no desire to fill the role should he be contacted.

"Someone may well have contacted the Warriors about me, who knows, but I can tell you right now that I have not spoken to anyone from New Zealand and I have no plans to," Bennett said.

"Even if the Warriors approached me, it would be a straight no anyway.

"I have family commitments in Australia with my son Justin, how can I go overseas when I have to help look after him? I don't see Justin enough as it is."

If the Warriors go with Ryles, who works underneath Craig Bellamy at Melbourne, they will need to pry him away from his upcoming role with England rugby union as a skills coach, which he is set to take up at the end of the year.

Wane, a Brit, is the one geographical outlier, who serves as coach of England's national team. He previously led Wigan to three UK Super League titles in an eight-year stretch.

Manly legend Geoff Toovey, who expressed interest in the role, and former Broncos and Panthers coach Anthony Griffin are two popular names missing from the reported list.

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George told the Telegraph they have not spoken to anyone yet, but have begun "building profiles and the criteria for the role".

The panel will have to carry out the process without a face-to-face meeting given all candidates are currently based in Australia or England, which George concedes is less than ideal.

"We won't be meeting people in-person, which is difficult because unless you know the person, it's hard to get that real-life engagement, which can be completely different to a video call," George said.

"Even if it's our interim coach in Todd [Payten], he'll need to speak to us via that mechanism because I'm here, the chairman [Rob Croot] is here and Simon Mannering is here.

"To be honest, if it was normal, we could come into Sydney, Brisbane or Melbourne, or wherever we need to go for a week and just get it done and dusted.

"The best thing is, with myself, Simon, Rob and Mark involved we talk a lot and so we don't want to rush anything, we just want to take our time and get it right."


George has heaped praise on Mannering, who put his hand up to join the selection panel, as reported by the Herald last month.

"Simon has been outstanding in his review [of coaches] and his feedback on what the club should look for; he's been really instrumental in making sure we get a good shortlist together."