New play for Warriors' ownership just 16 months after team was last sold

Newshub can reveal a major play is underway for the ownership of the NZ Warriors, 
only a year-and-a-half after the club was sold by businessman Eric Watson.

The bid follows another tough night for the Warriors at Mt Smart on Friday, as the team copped their 14th loss of the NRL season.

While the year has been another one on the field, there also seems to have been unrest off it - among the club owners.

Newshub understands minority shareholder Autex Industries is making a play to buy the club outright, with Autex boss Mark Robinson saying it's in the "best interests" of the club's future.

The Warriors were sold to the Carlaw Heritage Trust and manufacturing business Autex industries just a 18 months ago. It was hailed as a "new chapter" for rugby league in New Zealand at the time.

"We'll work very hard to maintain, not only what we're doing now, but improving and enhancing what we do in the future," Warriors chief executive Cameron George said at the time.

The Carlaw Heritage Trust is the majority owner, with two-thirds of the club, but Autex now wants to take full control of the team and push harder, saying "we want the club to reach its full potential".

And that'll require a willingness to be ruthless, according to league stalwart Sir Graham Lowe.

"Autex have got great passion, but in saying all that, unless they're prepared to make the changes that are going to fix performances on the field, nothing will change," Sir Graham says. "The performance on the field is just pathetic!" 

"I don't think the place needs to be bombed or anything like that, but certainly Autex... this isn't a time for people's feelings, this is time to fix it."

Robinson says the last thing he wants to cause is disruption and Autex is working through negotiations as smoothly as possible.

A deal could be done by the end of next week and Newshub understands a shareholders meeting is slated for Thursday.

"The shareholders are discussing an ownership proposal and it's confidential between them," George told Newshub.

"My focus is ensuring the day-to-day operations run well, and we do the best we can for our fans and sponsors."

But that won't save the team's season on the field. They're already out of playoff contention.


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