NRL 2020: NZ Warriors in no rush to appoint new head coach

NZ Warriors chairman Rob Croot insists there is lots of interest in the vacant head coaching role, but they're in no rush to fill the role for 2021 and beyond.

The Warriors have been on the hunt for a new coach after sacking Stephen Kearney last month, with Todd Payten serving as interim for the remainder of the season. 

Payten is among the candidates for the role, although he's also in contention for the vacant North Queensland Cowboys job after they sacked Paul Green earlier this week. 

Green, who won the NRL with the Cowboys in 2015, has been linked to the Warriors job along with Anthony Griffin, Neill Henry, Shaun Wane and brother Ben and Shane Walker. 

Croot is among the selection panel who are interviewing candidates alongside chief executive Cameron George, club owner Mark Robinson, and Warriors legend Simon Mannering. 

"It's a huge challenge, we have to get the right coach," says Croot.

"Putting a time limit on it forces a decision that might not be right. As I sit here now we are a little over halfway through the first round of talking to people we might be interested in.

"The decision around the timeframe of releasing Stephen was to give us enough time to go to market."

The Warriors and Cowboys are the only two teams who are currently looking for a new coach after the Canterbury Bulldogs signed Trent Barrett to replace Dean Pay. 

NRL 2020: NZ Warriors in no rush to appoint new head coach

But many teams could be on the hunt for coaches in the coming weeks as Brisbane Broncos' Anthony Seibold and St George Illawarra Dragons' Paul McGregor have been put on notice. 

"The search is ongoing," says George. 

"There could be new coaches coming up next week, I just had a CV sent to me then. It doesn't stop.

"If we have to sit for six months or three months to find the right person it could be what is best for the club.

"There are people who have expressed interest through third parties who are currently with other clubs. We would never say who they are but it has been comforting to understand their interest in coming here.

"There is a real fire in the belly from different people we have spoken to, they have different ways of achieving it but I am really comfortable when the call is made it will be a really good option."

Owner Mark Robinson and Rob Croot.
Owner Mark Robinson and Rob Croot. Photo credit: Photosport

While the Warriors are hunting for a new coach, they're also looking for loan players to bolster their roster for the next 10 weeks. 

On Sunday, quartet Ken Maumalo, David Fusitu'a, Agnatius Paasi and King Vuniyayawa, who will return home to be with their families, meaning they will play no further part in the 2020 season. 

The Warriors are allowed to loan players in but Payten has expressed his frustration with teams only offering players who are not at NRL standard. 

Jack Hetherington is currently on loan from the Penrith Panthers, but his loan deal expires after Sunday's game against the Sydney Roosters/ 

"I think the next week might open up a few doors, because I think there are a few teams on the cusp of whether they're going to the finals," says George. "Those who aren’t might be able to help us and those that are might be a bit protective." 

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