Perhaps the brightest star in the Warriors' troubled 2020 sky is the appointment of Phil Gould as a consultant – even though the role throws up more questions than answers right now.
As every man and his dingo has been pointing out lately, no one comes with more rugby league knowledge than Gould, so his work with the Warriors has the potential to cover new ground. In other words, something effective might actually occur.
Trouble is, we've heard it all before. There has been any number of ridiculous, chest-thumping statements about the future formation of a Warriors "juggernaut", when all that's transpired has more resembled a jug of noughts.
In fact, the Warriors' difficult and (results-wise) ordinary season looked to be limping along even worse lately, in spite of a couple of brave efforts on the field. An air of desperation crept in over the appointment of a new coach to replace Stephen Kearney and the brutal announcement by owner Mark Robinson that Blake Green – one of the better-performed players – had no place in the team.
Green did the only thing he could; he found a new job with the Newcastle Knights and petitioned to leave early. This led caretaker coach Todd Payten to say he was disappointed in Green. He was more likely disappointed in Robinson but slagging off the owner has never been a career-enhancing move in professional sport.
This is the same Payten who told an enormous porky in a pre-recorded TV interview about coaching the Warriors – but then thought better of it and confessed he'd turned the job down. That led to an unseemly scramble to appoint former Knights coach Nathan Brown, who had earlier himself turned the job down.
If all this sounds a bit like an episode of Shortland Street from a scriptwriter with a grudge and a crack habit, it was overshadowed by Gould's appointment and the strong suggestion that he would re-build the Warriors in much the same vein as the Penrith Panthers. They are currently leading the NRL, though the Warriors fought to a gutsy 18-12 loss against them on Friday night.
Gould is credited with helping the Panthers find their feet as a development club, meaning they built an academy to develop local players and keep them – an issue long experienced by New Zealand rugby league, with players lured away to Australian clubs.
So will Gould do the same for the Warriors? That's the inference – but there are some rather large questions that arise.
Where will the money come from? An academy costs, at a conservative estimate, about $20m. The Brisbane Broncos' new facility (which admittedly includes a leagues club) cost about A$28m. The Panthers' shiny new academy is bankrolled by a highly profitable leagues club.
The New Zealand Rugby League haven't got that kind of dough, neither have the Auckland Rugby League, nor the Carlaw Heritage Trust who are still waiting for the new owners to pay off the millions still owed in the deal cut for them to buy the Warriors. That leaves Robinson, who is clearly not short of a shekel or two – but he might quail at that kind of expenditure while he is still paying off the trust.
Gould's appointment comes after revealing he had been talking to NRL boss Peter V'landys for months about the need for heavy investment in New Zealand, the Warriors and international football, including the Pacific Islands. He was linked with a job at the NRL, fostering that international growth.
So there is more than a hint that the NRL might fund some growth work here – even though "here" means Gould will still be based in Australia, particularly with the current border restrictions.
But can/will the NRL really weigh in with millions? This is the body, remember, a fingernail away from insolvency before they got the season back up and running.
It is costing a small fortune to keep the competition going – the Storm are said to be costing the NRL $100,000 a week as they hide from the virus in Queensland instead of Melbourne. The Warriors will presumably be costing the NRL about the same; there are seven more rounds to play (counting this week's) which means, for those two clubs alone, the bill will be $1.4m just to continue to play.
While we are on the subject of money – who is paying Gould's salary for this job and to whom will he report? It's not hard to imagine that the NRL might be paying some or most of it.
But that begs the question of where loyalties will lie. The NRL and the New South Wales mafia have always favoured home clubs over the Warriors and, in times of Covid-19 and financial stringency, there may be politics at play if money is being seen to be siphoned off to New Zealand – never mind the high-sounding aim of "growing the game", a phrase rugby union knows is easy to say; hard to do.
Perhaps the biggest problem, however, is the lack of cohesion in New Zealand league; the various bodies and clubs have only rarely acted in concert and the disparate agendas and fiefdoms mean even Gould may find it difficult to implement a solution a la Penrith.
Even if he does, will an academy stop the Australians raiding New Zealand talent? Unlikely.