8 Aug 2020

Junior New Zealand talent on Warriors' coach's radar

3:28 pm on 8 August 2020

The Warriors have confirmed Nathan Brown will join the rugby league club from next season - ending a six week search for a new head coach.

Warriors coach Nathan Brown.

New Warriors coach Nathan Brown. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The Australian who has coached previously in the NRL with the Newcastle Knights and St George Illawarra has signed a three year deal with the Auckland club.

The Warriors had been on the hunt for a new head coach following the shock sacking of Stephen Kearney in June.

In future seasons, the Warriors roster will be bolstered by young New Zealand talent and some stars currently overseas, if Brown has his way.

Warriors chief executive Cameron George said Brown's connections in Australia and the United Kingdom was an asset to the club.

As a hooker, Brown made 172 first-grade appearances before becoming an NRL coach at the age of 29.

He has a career total of almost 450 matches coaching NRL clubs St George Illawarra and Newcastle as well as Huddersfield and St Helens in the English Super League.

Brown was tasked with rebuilding the Newcastle Knights roster in his last gig as a head coach, but Warriors interim coach Todd Payten does not believe he needs to fulfil the same role at Mt Smart.

Warriors coach Todd Payten.

Todd Payten Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Payten was offered the Warriors coaching role on a fulltime basis but turned it down, citing family reasons.

Brown, who spent time with the Warriors during the pre-season, said he had already turned his attention to building a roster.

"Generally when clubs are changing coaches they are changing coaches because there is areas of the roster you need to improve and the Warriors have shown of late, this year under some very difficult circumstances they've got some players in their squad to help take the club forward and with a few bits of tinkering and developments of some younger players we feel the club could continue to grow," Brown said.

Brown wanted the Warriors to be able to retain some of the junior talent in New Zealand that had in previous years headed to clubs in Australia or England instead.

He pointed to the development of Eliesa Katoa this season as something he would like to see more of and singled out Warriors loan player Jack Hetherington as the type of player who could make a difference to the success of a club.

Brown agreed with the club letting go of veteran halfback Blake Green.

"It's outstanding for the club because for the future of the club to get young Chanel [Harris-Tavita] playing halfback and get some experience playing with Kodi [Nikorima] is a great thing for the club."

Earlier this week George said Covid-19 meant the process of confirming a new head coach took longer than it usually might.

However, Brown said the deal was done within hours on Thursday.

Simon Mannering as committed as ever in his 300th game for the Warriors.

Simon Mannering Photo: Photosport

The coaching appointment was made a by a panel consisting of five-time Warriors' player of the year Simon Mannering, George, chairman Rob Croot and owner Mark Robinson.

A range of criteria was used to measure applicants suitability for the role and Robinson said he wanted to make sure that the next coach had the right personality for the club.

Brown warned fans should not expect an immediate change in fortunes when he crosses the Tasman, but he did expect the club to be playing finals football regularly.

"You can't all of a sudden wave a magic wand and you're going to win something it just doesn't work like that unfortunately.

"The key to any club is sustained success ... it's not about instant success, it's building something that is sustainable that gets you consistency and consistency gives you opportunity."

Brown is not the only new face at the club from next season with leading rugby league powerbroker Phil Gould's appointed as a club-wide consultant.

After a 104-game first grade playing career, Gould coached the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs and Penrith Panthers to premiership titles as well as being coaching director at the Sydney Roosters when they beat the Warriors in the 2002 NRL grand final final.

He also coached New South Wales to three consecutive State of Origin series wins in 1992, 1993, 1994 and again in 1996.

In a second stint with the Blues he guided them to two more triumphs as well as a drawn series in 2002-2004.

He took up a role as general manager with the Penrith Panthers from 2011-2019 when he drove the rebuilding of the club, which is currently leading this year's NRL competition.

Special ambassador for the World Nines, Phil Gould.

Phil Gould. Photo: Facebook / Government of Samoa

George said Gould will work with the club on commercial and football opportunities as well as reviewing structures and pathways in the game with a view to bringing long-term benefits for the Warriors and for the game generally in New Zealand and the Pacific Islands.

"There's no question this is an exciting challenge," Gould said.

"The owners Mark (Robinson) and Rob (Croot) and Cameron have a real passion for rugby league and they're highly motivated to build the Warriors into a powerful club over the coming years.

"A strong Warriors club is a great asset to the NRL, not to mention its importance to the continued development of international rugby league, which I know is a priority for Peter V'Landys and the ARL Commission."

Robinson said the addition of Brown and Gould was the "best thing to happen to the club in 20 years".

The Warriors have risen to 11th on the NRL ladder following their 26-22 win over the Manly Sea Eagles and are now three points outside the top eight.