The broom has been used very early at the Vodafone Warriors NRL side, as a high profile coaching change has occurred overnight. As the Telstra Premiership finals are fought over, the NZ Warriors appoint Stephen Kearney as new coach effective immediately.
Jim Doyle (pictured) announced the news officially today, as innuendo and first-hand information was leaked late last night to media. The Chief Executive of the Auckland-based National Rugby League (NRL) side made swift change a the broom had been used to demote head coach Andrew McFadden. Incoming new coach Stephen Kearney then came sweeping in to usurp the current staff.
Kearney signs three year deal
The current Kiwi’s rugby league Head Coach has announced he will step down immediately to take up the role in Auckland. Still acting as an assistant for Wayne Bennett who’s Bronco’s NRL team prepare that side for their sudden-death NRL playoff against the North Queensland Cowboys. When speaking about the Warriors, Kearney said was looking forward to returning to Auckland.
“While I’ve got a job to do here I’m really excited about coming on board at the Vodafone Warriors,” he said from Brisbane last night.
“The club means a lot to me from my time there as a player and this a great opportunity to take the football department in a new direction.
“I’ve been speaking to Cappy [McFadden] about his role and I’m thrilled he’s staying on. He has so much to offer with his knowledge about the club and I’m really looking forward to working with him. It’ll also be great to have Stacey involved to a greater degree with the NRL squad so we can really maximize the expertise he provides.”
McFadden to stay with club
While Doyle confirmed the coaching changes, McFadden is to become an assistant along with ex-Warrior Stacey Jones. Vodafone Warriors owner Eric Watson has endorsed Kearney’s appointment.
“I’m thrilled the Vodafone Warriors have secured a coach of Stephen’s calibre as well as building a coaching team of the type and quality we’ve never seen before,” he said.
The key issue for fans and rugby league commentators to accept will be the operating staff-mix. McFadden has a poor record, while Kearney as a head coach of the Parramatta Eels certainly did not exceed the record books. The most successful out of the three is Jones after leading the Under-20 Warriors team to success.
Interesting times ahead for the NZ Warriors
While it is a privately operated franchise of the NRL, it needs to be successful. The method now appears to incorporate a new initiative with the formation of a ‘football advisory board’ to oversee the club’s football operations.
Among the members are former Rugby World Cup-winning All Black coach Sir Graham Henry, experienced NFL coach Eric Mangini, club great Awen Guttenbeil and director Owen Eastwood.
That group has already been able to meet, according to Watson.
“We were well aware that our board has been made up of directors who all bring strong commercial expertise to the table,” he said.
“However, we have been lacking sporting knowledge so we have moved to improve that with the formation of this Football Advisory Board. We met recently and will meet monthly covering all football responsibilities.”
Stephen Kearney to become new role post-NRL finals
Kearney was to assume the head coach of the Kiwi’s team to travel to England, but will now instead focus on the Warriors. The heir-apparent seems to be David Kiddwell, so the transition from that role may take some of his time.
He must meet with the players to immediately form relationships. Not as a Kiwi’s coach, but as the Warriors coach. In that way, he must bolster the confidence of players like Shaun Johnson (pictured), Isaac Luke, Ryan Hoffman and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck.
Kearney needs to represent the fans, as much as the corporate backers. A former player, his reputation as a classy player maybe the best mode to assume–not as a ‘supreme Coach’. That is still to be proven in the NRL, but he has learned from two of the best: Bennett at the Broncos and Craig Bellamy at the Melbourne Storm.
If he can mirror anything like those coaches success, then the Warriors fans maybe singing his praises. Until then, most will just be saying “what, another new head coach!”.