Nathan Brown is likely be one of the contenders to replace Stephen Kearney as Warriors coach. Image by Darren Pateman/AAP PHOTOS

rugby league

Warriors coy on Brown return as NRL coach

2020-06-21 11:36:20

Nathan Brown could headline a list of candidates to fill the Warriors’ head coaching role after the shock sacking of Stephen Kearney, while Todd Payton isn’t ruling out applying for the job.

The Warriors will on Sunday begin the search to replace Kearney, who was unceremoniously dumped after the club’s underwhelming start to the season.

Former Penrith coach Anthony Griffin, Sydney Roosters deputy Craig Fitzgibbon and Melbourne No.2 Jason Ryles are all expected to be in the mix.

However, Brown, the former Newcastle and St George Illawarra mentor, could be the early frontrunner, having been brought on as a consultant over the pre-season.

Warriors CEO Cameron George said on Sunday he had received about a dozen approaches from prospective candidates since the announcement of Kearney’s axing.

George refused to confirm whether Brown, who was dumped as Knights coach last August, would be considered.

“You’d have to ask Nathan,” George said. 

“I’m not going to sit here and say whether he’s a candidate or not.

“You’d have to ask those individuals

“People wanting to put their hand up for the job isn’t a problem.

“We just have to make sure we follow due process and take our time to find the best possible person for the role.”

Payten, who has been appointed to the interim head role, said Brown had joined the team three times earlier this season with a focus on the team’s hookers but allowed input in other areas.

“He’s been a good foil for us to lean on at certain times; a good set of eyes,” Payten said.

“He’s had a small part in what we’ve been able to do.”

Payten, who joined the Warriors as an assistant in late 2018, said he has ambitions as a head coach and is considering his options.

“But I’m not in any rush. This will be a good test for me,” he said.

“We’ve got some challenges here at the moment.

“I think the club deserves the best candidate that’s available.”

The decision to axe Kearney is set to cost the Warriors a reported $2 million, given the former New Zealand coach was in the first 12 months of a three-year extension. 

That figure would take up more than a third of this year’s football department cap, believed to be soft capped at $5.7 million.

George indicated club owner Mark Robinson, whose firm Autex Industries took sole ownership late last year, would wear the cost.

George, who said he didn’t regret handing Kearney an extension, suggested Robinson played a key role in the coach’s demise.

“Hindsight will always educate you on those, and in this situation I never doubted that that was the right decision for the club at the time to do so,” he said. 

“We’ve had three different owners in two-and-a-half years as well, and we’ve all got a different vision of what the future looks like.”