New Zealand Warriors interim head coach Todd Payten revealed the main reason why he turned down a fulltime role at the club but also hinted at 'issues' behind the rejection.
Payten, who took over from Stephen Kearney a little over a month ago after Kearney was fired six games through the NRL season, looked the likely candidate to land the role fulltime, but last night revealed he had to turn it down for family reasons.
"My wife's father just started chemotherapy," he told NRL 360.
"That was at the forefront of our mind. Obviously with the Covid thing, for her to travel back and forth is very, very difficult.
Payten hinted at other reasons for turning down the role.
"That was a big part of it. There were some other issues I don't want to make public. That's my decision and I've made it.
"It was tough for everyone. The club was shocked and disappointed. Moving forward, my focus is on getting the side prepared from week to week."
According to the Daily Telegraph former Dragons coach Nathan Brown is now considered a favourite for the head coaching role.
While pulling himself out of the running for the Warriors role, Payten could yet be a fulltime NRL head coach as he remains a candidate for the North Queensland Cowboys' job - a team Payten has previously been an assistant coach with.
He did, however, mention he had not yet started a process with the Cowboys, but made the club aware of his interest.
Payten's coaching credentials speak for themselves. He's led the Wests Tigers under-20s to a title, New South Wales' under-18s to back-to-back wins over Queensland and was a member of the Cowboys' grand final-winning coaching staff in 2015.
Since taking over at the Warriors in late June, Payten has shown he's ready to be a head coach at the top level. While his 2-4 record as a head coach isn't overly flattering, the Warriors have made noticeable improvements in their play since Payten took the reins, with their performances in the past fortnight - a victory over the Wests Tigers and a tight battle with the defending champion Sydney Roosters - showing how capable they can be.
Payten had the support of plenty of the Warriors' playing group in his pursuit of the role, with lock Jazz Tevaga commenting on his appreciation of Payten's style last week before their win over the Tigers.
"Hopefully, he gets the nod," Tevaga said.
"He's straight up. If you stuff up, he's going to tell you - you'll hear about it.
"That's one thing I've enjoyed about Toddy, that he doesn't care who you are, if you don't perform, you're going to get dropped.
"It just goes to show that he does have high standards and I've really enjoyed playing under him."