Warriors coach Stephen Kearney and CEO Cameron George.
Warriors coach Stephen Kearney and CEO Cameron George.

Warriors reveal reason behind brutal timing

WARRIORS management say the early-season dismissal of Stephen Kearney was deliberate, to allow a new coach plenty of runway to reshape their NRL playing squad.

With 13 players off contract at the end of the season, an overhaul is looming at the Kiwi club and chairman Rob Croot said it was important the coach in charge should drive it.

Croot said he could sympathise with those who regard the abrupt sacking of popular coach Kearney as heartless, particularly with the squad forced into its long quarantine stay on the Central Coast.

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However, he said new owners Autex Industries - of which he is chairman - are ambitious and didn't want to waste half a season when a new direction was clearly needed to lift the team's standards.

Croot said a "wishlist" of preferred candidates has been compiled, although he insisted that process didn't begin until after Kearney was dismissed on Saturday.

Expressions of interest had flowed quickly but Croot said the appointment process would be rigorous.

"Part of the reason for the decision making is that now it gives us that opportunity to take that breath," Croot said.

"There is no time frame we are working to but ideally we would have somebody lined up fairly quickly, so that person can have due influence over selections and signings for next year."

Master coach Wayne Bennett has been linked with a move by one report, although he still has 18 months to run on his South Sydney contract.

Few coaches have publicly voiced interest aside from former Manly mentor Geoff Toovey.

Coach Stephen Kearney was sacked with player recruitment in mind.
Coach Stephen Kearney was sacked with player recruitment in mind.

Croot said Autex had made its expectations of Kearney and the team clear when taking ownership late last year.

"I appreciate that it seems really tough with Covid and the boys based in Australia to make the decision now," he said.

"But we expected a change and to move forward. We haven't seen that consistency and we have called it.

"It allows us to go to market and choose the best person to drive the change we are looking for.

"The timing also allows the new coach to be involved in recruitment for the 2021 season, which is critical."


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