11 Aug 2020

Gould to make Warriors more appealing

4:10 pm on 11 August 2020

Newly-appointed Warriors consultant Phil Gould says the rugby league club needs to work on its image both in New Zealand and in Australia.

Philip Gould in 2019.

Phil Gould Photo: Photosport

The experienced league administrator joins the club next season in a role that he described as helping with "strategic decisions" and one of the first things he wanted to do was make sure the club had wider appeal.

Gould said the club needed to start looking like an attractive option for young New Zealand players as well as Australian players who wanted to make the club their final destination rather than a stepping stone to elsewhere.

Along with new head coach Nathan Brown the focus will be on development pathways and building better relationships with potential players and fans in all corners of New Zealand.

"I think what we are seeing in the NRL at the moment is a great divide between the top teams and the bottom teams and teams that are surviving and are competitive on a weekly basis are the ones that have invested in their own future and invested in development over the years," Gould said.

"Those that have become purely recruitment clubs are struggling for depth and struggling for quality in their salary cap."

"So if you want good value in your salary cap, if you want to build a culture within your club where people are joined together in a common cause and love playing for their club and are not just bouncing from club to club to take the dollar or a big contract then I think you have something special."

Warriors coach Nathan Brown.

New Warriors coach Nathan Brown Photo: PHOTOSPORT

How the Warriors were perceived locally and in Australia would have a big impact on player development and commercial success, Gould said, and he planned to help the club in this way.

He said it was important that the Warriors had strong relationships with government, New Zealand Rugby League and Auckland Rugby League as well as potential players and fans outside of the club's Auckland base.

"What everyone is looking at is the future of rugby league in the country and it's pretty simple I think we need to expand the game as much as possible, get as many kids playing it and have development pathways in place for those that have a dream of playing in the NRL and we want them to have a dream of playing for the Warriors.

"A lot of kids leave New Zealand to come to Australia, a lot of families come here for opportunity and we want to make sure that the Warriors get the best of the best and making sure they are scouring all inches of the New Zealand landscape to have a relationship with those football regions and have a relationship with those players."

Gould said he had been talking to NRL for months about the importance of investing in rugby league in New Zealand - even prior to his appointment with the Warriors.

With Gould's assistance New Zealand Rugby League might have an unlikely ally for helping to boost the coffers.

Gould was in discussions with the chairman of the Australia Rugby League Commission Peter V'Landys about the NRL or Australia Rugby League investing in helping development pathways in New Zealand.

While he acknowledged any conversations about support from across the Tasman was in the early stages he hoped to be taking those discussions further in the next year.

"At different times New Zealand Rugby League has been better placed financially and has been able to do more than they are currently doing ... but from everything I've heard New Zealand Rugby League is looking for a strong working relationship with the Warriors and the development of the game."

Gould has also accepted Sonny Bill Williams' challenge to advocate for greater diversity in the NRL in his new role.

Speaking to Channel Nine Williams, who's back in Australia to play for the Sydney Roosters, called on Gould who has coached two sides to NRL premierships to promote Maori and Pasifika players at the Warriors.

More than half of NRL players have Maori, Pasifika, or Indigenous Australian but none of the 18 teams' head coaches have those backgrounds following the sacking of Warriors coach Stephen Kearney.

Gould accepted its an issue that can not be shied away from and he urged all NRL clubs to increase their diversity in management and governance roles

"It's really important that our administrative roles and roles from coaching to all sorts of roles within professional rugby league are given the opportunity at least to be a part of that and that it reflects the demographic of our playing ranks and those that support our game and play our game," Gould said.