NRL 2022: New NZ Warriors coach Andrew Webster arrives with title winner Ivan Cleary's endorsement

Incoming NZ Warriors coach Andrew Webster has the tick of approval from one of the NRL's best, with the Auckland club sounding out the opinion of current boss Ivan Cleary, before making the appointment.

Webster has been confirmed to take charge of the Warriors from 2023, after finishing his commitments with Penrith Panthers this season.

The 40-year-old has been an assistant under Clearly at the Panthers, working as Penrith's attack coach. 

And during their time at Penrith, the Panthers have cemented themselves as one of the NRL's great modern-day sides, winning the 2021 Premiership.

But after serving as Warriors assistant under Andrew McFadden, the time has come for Webster to spread his wings as a head coach, and will leave Penrith with Cleary's blessing and endorsement.

"I had a couple of chats with Ivan and spoke to him a few weeks ago," said Warriors chief executive Cameron George.

"He was hugely complimentary of Webby's worth ethic, the type of character he is and what he can bring to the table as a coach. There's no doubt in his mind, he's a head coach.

"Ivan has a soft spot for our club, he understands the landscape here better than most and he knows, with Webby's experience here in the past, the skills and the experience he's developed since he's been there will only help our footy club."

Of course, Cleary is also the constant elephant in the Warriors' clubhouse - the coach that took them to the 2011 Grand Final and was then allowed to slip away, before he could guide them all the way to a championship.

"Ivan himself wants to see us succeed and, with that in mind, he highly recommended Andrew Webster," said George, who also credits Cleary for being willing to part with someone, who has become an influential figure in Penrith's recent success.

Ivan Cleary.
Ivan Cleary. Photo credit: Image - Getty Images

"That's a credit to Ivan. He's obviously been able to mentor him at the Wests Tigers and also Penrith, so full credit to him.

"The way Ivan and Penrith Panthers have managed this, as well, has been really credible.

"He's coming from a really good club to join a great club over here. Hopefully, it all rubs off and we have some great success."

George is also confident there will be no repeat of the scenario that saw the Warriors forced to part ways with former coach Nathan Brown.

Brown, and star players Reece Walsh, Matt Lodge and Euan Aitken have all either left the club or will leave after 2022, due to their reluctance to relocate to New Zealand.

But after one stint living in Auckland, George insists Webster is ready to embrace the Kiwi way of living once again.

"He loved his time in New Zealand, absolutely loved it.

Andrew Webster.
Andrew Webster. Photo credit: Image - Photosport

"He's born and bred in Sydney, he's very well connected to country New South Wales with his extended family, but his time in New Zealand was fantastic.

"He's since gone and got married, and his partner or fiance at the time was here with him, and she loved her time here as well.

"We welcome them both back here." 

Webster will link with the Warriors in November, as the club prepares for its 2023 season, based in New Zealand for the first time since 2019.