Acting New Zealand Warriors coach Todd Payten has opened up about the circumstances surrounding the stunning revelation that he had turned down a fulltime role with the club.
On Monday evening Payten agreed to be part of Fox Sports' nightly NRL 360 show which then filmed a simple pre-recorded story, updating viewers on his attempts to take his playing squad in a new direction during what has been an incredibly challenging season. He even spoke about his interest in taking the fulltime job next season.
However, the show revealed on Tuesday that, just minutes after the pre-recorded piece aired, they received a phone call from Payten asking to immediately appear live - he had changed his mind.
Payten confirmed the story to Newstalk ZB's D'Arcy Waldegrave on Tuesday evening, saying that in attempting to shield his side from the potentially unsettling news he had mistakenly lied to NRL 360.
"I did do a pre-record with them and they were asking about my interview and about things that I would change as a coach and I knew during that interview that I'd already turned the job down.
"I got off the phone and for 25 minutes it didn't really sit well with me at all that I was dishonest. I ask my players to be honest and to be accountable... how can they do it and not me?
"So I rang them immediately and asked if I could go to air live and I just addressed it and I'm glad I did because it's been put to bed now."
When asked by Waldegrave if there were any other reasons for the abrupt change in stance, he placed the blame squarely on his own immediate coaching concerns.
"I didn't want to upset our prep for the weekend, that was my main reason and I didn't want it to be played out publicly; but in the end it was always going to. I'm just glad I did the right thing.
"I've been dreaming of this opportunity for nine years or more, so it wasn't taken lightly."
While Payten cited family reasons as the chief influence behind his reason to turn down the role, he is still contracted to the club through the 2021 season and may yet find himself in a work situation that straddles the Tasman Sea.
"There's an opportunity in Australia [with the North Queensland Cowboys], I'll have a crack at that. If that doesn't work out, which is a very real chance of happening, I'll still be here as an assistant and we'll have to deal with whatever happens with Jules' father and coming back and forth and just do the best we can."
Payten said that, while there was a somewhat negative reception to the news within the clubhouse, the squad had become extremely adaptable to change over the course of the current season and would quickly recover in time for next round of NRL action.
"There was some disappointment but they all understood the reasons that I gave them. They're professional enough, they've had enough stuff go on the last few weeks. They've been able to handle adversity and move on pretty quickly and their focus is on Manly."
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Meanwhile, former Newcastle Knights coach Nathan Brown has emerged as the new favourite for the Warriors coaching job, according to an Australian report.