Interim Warriors coach Todd Payten has emerged as a contender for the North Queensland NRL role. Image by Dan Himbrechts/AAP PHOTOS

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Todd Payten eyes Cowboys NRL coaching gig

2020-08-03 20:21:13

Todd Payten has set his sights on coaching North Queensland after turning down the Warriors’ offer to lead the Auckland-based NRL club full-time.

The interim Warriors coach wants to remain in Australia long-term for family reasons.

“There’s another opportunity that’s on the table. That is the Cowboys,” Payten told NRL 360.

“I’m not in any process at the moment, they’re just aware of my interest.”

Payten has been temporarily in charge of the Warriors since Steven Kearney was sacked last month.

But being based in Auckland long-term isn’t an option for the 41-year-old and his wife, whose father is battling cancer.

“My wife’s father just started chemotherapy,” Payten said.

“That was at the forefront of our mind. Obviously with the COVID thing, for her to travel back and forth is very, very difficult.

“That was a big part of it. That’s my decision and I’ve made it.

“It was tough for everyone. The club was shocked and disappointed.

“Moving forward, my focus is on getting the side prepared from week to week.”

The Warriors last month knocked back interest from former Manly coach Geoff Toovey and brothers Ben and Shane Walker. 

Payten will lead the 12th-placed Warriors in their round-13 battle with Manly on Friday night.

The former Wests Tigers, Raiders and Roosters forward was an assistant at North Queensland before moving to the Warriors.

Former Cowboys coach Paul Green walked away from the role last month, leaving Josh Hannay to take the helm for the remainder of the 2020 season.