NRL 2020: Nathan Brown confirms interest in vacant NZ Warriors head coach role

Nathan Brown has confirmed his interest in taking over as NZ Warriors coach, with reports suggesting an announcement will be made in coming days. 

Just weeks after ruling himself out of contention, Brown has had a change of heart and is now the favourite to replace Stephen Kearney at the helm.

The Warriors have been hunting for a new coach since sacking Kearney in June. Interim coach Todd Payten was offered the job, but turned it down earlier this week, citing family reasons and a desire to to pursue the vacant North Queensland Cowboys role.

The length of the deal hasn't been disclosed, but it's expected to be long term. 

"The truth is I'm a career coach, I love coaching and the Warriors job is a great opportunity, as is the Cowboys job," Brown has told Australia radio station Triple M, where he works as a commentator. 

"About six weeks ago, I said, at this stage, it wasn't the right opportunity for me. The timing wasn't right with some certain things going on in my life.

"I'm always in dialogue with the Warriors, because I actually work for them as a consultant, so there's a lot of truth that I do talk to the Warriors."

Brown began his head-coaching career at St George Illawarra Dragons, before guiding the Huddersfield Giants and St Helens in England, where he won the 2014 Super League title. 

Nathan Brown.
Nathan Brown. Photo credit: Photosport

In 2016, he took over Newcastle Knights, where he was tasked to rebuild the club after Wayne Bennett's messy departure. He was sacked at the end of the 2019 season and replaced by Adam O'Brien. 

Earlier this year, he worked at the Warriors as a consultant before the COVID-19 shutdown.

"I'm always in dialogue with the Warriors, because I work there as a consultant," says Brown. 

"My time over there was good in the pre-season, but when COVID-19 came, I was one of the first people to go like a lot of other people."

Brown has also been linked to the Cowboys role, but refuses to comment on reports that he is no longer interested in the job.

Michael Ennis, who played under Brown at the Dragons, feels it would be a good appointment for the Warriors. 

"I really like it," he has told Fox Sports. "He had great success as a young coach, albeit not winning a premiership with the Dragons, but they were regularly in the finals.

"He went overseas and continued to coach well with St Helens, winning a premiership over there.

"He came back and did a terrific job with Newcastle, getting them out of a difficult period. He did a wonderful job building that roster and brought some great names to the club.

"Knowing Browny's nature and the way that he coaches, the way he handles individuals, I think he is exactly what the Warriors need."

Payten will remain interim coach for the rest of the season, but Brown is expected to join the team and work behind the scenes, before taking over.

The report comes on the same day that Phil Gould confirmed he's been discussing a Warriors role, helping the team with their development. 

"We've spoken a couple of times," Gould has told Nine News. "Basically, the owners and chief executive are looking for assistance on strategic issues into the future.

"Most significant would be player development and pathways. This would include their relationship with NZRL.

"The owners and chief executive have a real passion for rugby league, and are highly motivated to build the NZ Warriors into a powerful club over the coming years."

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NRL 2020: Nathan Brown confirms interest in vacant NZ Warriors head coach role