Rugby league: NZ Warriors owner Mark Robinson lifts lid on departure of recruitment manager Peter O'Sullivan

NZ Warriors owner Mark Robinson's passion for his club is clear to see and his message to the club for next season is crystal clear too - turn up to win. 

Speaking to Newshub, Robinson drives home his desire to keep improving the culture of the club and lifts the lid on the recent departure of recruitment manager Peter O'Sullivan, leaving for new side Redcliffe Dolphins. 

"I don't want to knock the guy, because that's not my style, but he didn't really fit our culture," Robinson says. 

"People were always a bit wary of him, but since he's moved on, there's been another build in that area. Everyone's really starting to come close again. 

"Now they realise probably what I saw is what they should have seen, but they didn't see it, because I'm a bit more away from it than there in it everyday." 

Autex Industries chief executive Robinson took over club ownership in 2019 and times haven't been the easiest since, but his desire to see the club claim its maiden Premiership is unwavering. 

"My investment isn't about making money, it's about winning a Grand Final for the New Zealand people." 

The culture and personnel around him are paramount to Robinson - so much so, he was initially hesitant to see star halfback Shaun Johnson return to Mt Smart. 

"Me and Shaun have had our differences, but I played golf with him one day and I asked him what he could bring to my club, because I never thought Shaun would ever be back at my club," Robinson explains

"I said, 'Tell me what you're going to bring' and he said 'I'm going to bring experience, not raw talent anymore, I'm going to bring experience to take the team around the paddock... I really want to finish on a high and win a Grand Final with the Warriors', and that was good enough for me." 

Former Warriors recruitment manager Peter O'Sullivan
Former Warriors recruitment manager Peter O'Sullivan Photo credit: Photosport

That bullishness from Johnson is clearly appreciated. Robinson expects commitment and passion, coupled with a desire to improve that matches his own. 

"If you don't want to be here, go, but all I know is all the people at the club are better than they were two years ago... because they've learned a lot of stuff, going through what we've been through and what their families have." 

Robinson and the Warriors hierarchy are demanding success next season, after ultimately falling short - for one reason or another - in 2021. 

"We had the team last season to make the top eight, no doubt, but I don't think they knew how to win," he reflects. "I think they were a bit hung up in the situation they were in, everyone saying the Warriors this and that - without Warriors, the NRL wouldn't be going on - and I think they bought into that a little bit.

Shaun Johnson returns to the club in 2022
Shaun Johnson returns to the club in 2022 Photo credit: Photosport

"Not that they didn't try, but I just didn't think they realised they could have won those games."

The games Robinson refers to are the seven they lost by six points or less. 

"We've said to them, 'You turn up to win this year'. We've got a winning culture this year." 

Rugby league's entrenched in his family history and 'Robbo' has certainly made his mark, no doubt saving the club during the dark times of COVID. 

"Without a doubt, without their support, we wouldn't be where we are today, both on and off the field," explains chief executive Cameron George explains. "Mark has never once wavered from his responsibilities.

"He has been there through thick and thin in the past few years. I say this with respect to the other clubs, there is no other owner I would wish to stand beside me during this period than Mark Robinson." 

The club's now entering a period they hope will be the start of a golden one.