The hunt to find a new Warriors coach remains a wild guessing game in a field which gets narrower and wider by the day.

One thing is certain. Nathan Brown has dropped out of the race, as the club prepares to head into the interview phase to find a permanent replacement for the sacked Steve Kearney.

But names also keep popping out of the woodwork. The latest is the former Raiders, Cowboys and Titans coach Neil Henry.

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Brown, who has coached the Dragons, Knights and St Helens, was one of the first names mentioned after the sacking of Steve Kearney.

But there were always doubts over his availability, even though he had worked briefly under Kearney in Auckland as a specialist coach.

The 46-year-old Brown, a former Dragons hooker, has told the Warriors the fit is not right at this stage, chief executive Cameron George confirmed.

Melbourne assistant Jason Ryles, who is about to join the England rugby setup, is also reported by the Daily Telegraph to be unavailable for the Warriors job. Another rising coach Craig Fitzgibbon from the Roosters had earlier ruled himself out.

Interim coach Todd Payten is believed to be winning a lot of support for the way he has handled the job over three rounds, since Kearney was sent packing. Payten's honesty with the players and clear communication style are major plus points.

Warriors coach Todd Payten. Photo / Photosport.co.nz
Warriors coach Todd Payten. Photo / Photosport.co.nz

But Payten had a setback on Friday night as the Warriors' frustrating traits - most notably inconsistency - came back to the surface in a scruffy loss to the Gold Coast Titans following a great win over the Broncos.

Still, Payten is well and truly in the race.

Among the known candidates, former Broncos and Panthers coach Anthony Griffin has the best credentials in terms of recent first grade head coach experience.

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Others believed to be on the list include Sea Eagles icon Geoff Toovey, new England coach Shaun Wane, the veteran Tim Sheens who won four premierships with two clubs, Panthers assistant Trent Barrett and Wests Tigers assistant Andrew Webster.

There is general skepticism around Toovey's chances because he has been unable to find an NRL first grade job since 2015. But you couldn't rule him out.

Sheens would be an interesting mentor for someone like Payten, but will also be seen as yesterday's man out of touch with ways of getting through to young players.

And it is highly unlikely that the Warriors would take a punt on an England coach like Wane with no track record in this part of the world.

Former Manly boss Barrett meanwhile is being linked to the Bulldogs.

There might be around 15 applicants including characters such as former Titans boss John Cartwright, now a Sea Eagles assistant, plus the innovative Walker brothers Ben and Shane.

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With the perennial favourites led by Craig Bellamy and Wayne Bennett never available in the first place, Griffin looks to head the list of established names.

Payten faces a huge test on Sunday when the Warriors face a Sharks team desperate to bounce back from an embarrassing performance against the high flying Panthers.

The Sharks are likely to be without injured prop Andrew Fifita, but were showing promising signs in the preceding weeks before being torn apart by a first half Panthers blitz.

The game takes on extra significance with Ken Maumalo, David Fusitu'a, Agnatius Paasi and King Vuniyayawa due to leave the Warriors camp afterwards because their families have been unable to join them in Australia.

The loss of Maumalo in particular is a disaster. The Warriors are already talking to other clubs about loan replacements.