Coach Elliott already a hit at New Zealand Warriors

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    New Zealand Warriors coach Matthew Elliott is the first to go in 2014. (AAP Image/Tracey Nearmy)

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    New Warriors coach Matthew Elliott – largely unwanted by the players when he snared the job – has already chalked up a major win with his player roster.

    Midway through November last year, Elliott promised he would allow the players to choose their own captain, the player they would respect and turn to for on-field direction and inspiration.

    The position was put to a secret vote and the player (unanimously) anointed at the weekend is Simon Mannering, a 30-Test international who performs equally well at second-row or centre.

    I see this as an early notch on Elliott’s belt. Many Warriors expressed a liking for Tony Iro as the man to replace Brian McClennan as first grade coach and were aghast when the Aussie got the gig.

    Elliott cut them some early slack and they ran with it. Round one to the coach who is going to need loads of support tackling one of the toughest jobs in the NRL.

    The Warriors finished last season abysmally. Midway through, they were a chance of making the eight but they collapsed like plasticine men, toy soldiers who did more tickling than tackling when it mattered most.

    On The Roar I wrote they should be tossed out of the comp if they didn’t compete for the full 80 minutes in their games.

    Naturally, I got smashed by Roarers, many of whom failed to look at the big picture. This was a team that was runner-up in 2011 and crashed into oblivion, not even qualifying for the top eight.

    At the time, I pointed out I have always enjoyed watching Kiwi sporting teams in action but not this one. This was a team of quitters – just look at the half-time and full-time scores in the latter stages of 2012 to get my drift.

    I have enjoyed watching the Warriors ever since they were admitted to the Australian league competition in 1995 (as the Auckland Warriors).

    But last season? The stink is still in my nostrils.

    I have always had lots of time for Matthew Elliott as a coach and really hope he succeeds from day one.

    There is loads of talent in the Warriors line-up – an exciting mix of youth and experience.

    Backline defence (or the lack of it) was their major problem last year and I think the arrival of ex-Storm centre Dane Nielsen will go a long way to solving it. Nielsen starred defensively in the 2012 grand final against a dangerous Bulldogs outfit used to scoring tries at a blink.

    He suffocated the Dogs’ danger men out wide. He will need to do it time and again to help this Warriors team regain the respect they lost in that dreadful, spiralling end to last season.

    But back to captain Mannering, an even bigger key to the team’s fortunes in the months ahead.

    The 26-year-old is on track to become the longest serving skipper (after Stacey Jones) in the club’s history. This coming season will be his fourth at the helm.

    Mannering has made 165 top grade appearances for the Warriors and is signed until the end of the 2015 season.

    “Simon is an absolute logical choice for the job,” Elliott said. “He is mutually respected and admired by all of the players and coaching staff for the quality he brings as a leader and a player.

    “He is a person of strong character and he has a wonderful work ethic.”

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    The Crowd Says (25)

    • January 23rd 2013 @ 3:25am
      Johnno said | January 23rd 2013 @ 3:25am | ! Report

      I’m glad this has worked out. The Warriors players just put there heads down, shut up,stopped whinging, and got on with it.

      He is a good coach. And this might be Matt Elliot’s time. Some people, in pro sport just need the right culture, and the right environment.
      And whatever else one wants to knock about the Warirors being an underachieving club over the last 18 years. One thing is mostly true i’d say about 80% of the time and success rate. Aussies most of the time have success at the Warriors maybe not all there career there, but for a sustained amount.

      Aussy coaches and players have had success at the Warriors a few duds eg John Monie in 1995,didn’t deliver with such a good roster, but maybe he was let down by bad administration.

      Greg Alexander,Lee Oudenryn, Robert Mears, Jason Bell, Daniel Anderson(2002 grand final runner up) Ivan Cleary (both as a player 2002 and as coach 2011 runner up) he took them to 1 grand final in 2011),Kevin Campion, Steve Price took a big gamble leaving the bulldogs where he was the man and in a total comfort zone and had immediate impact and success there, to name a few.

      And if you look at that coaching and playing list, many of those players were borderline on the scrap heap if not there, and found a new lease of life at the NZ Warriors a sea change if you like or tree change, whatever you prefer.

      And this could be Elliot’s time. They now have rock solid management at the club, and money to invest in facilities and players.
      A winning culture is going on in NZ rugby league . The Auckland Vulcans are back too, which has been of good benefit to the Warriors i think. And there domestic 1st division is slowly coming back too.

      Matt Elliot has been described as easy going bloke, but very analytical, some ex-players have called him , over analytical, or information overload. Clive Woodward the England rugby world cup winning coach used to get criticised for that, over analysing , and just having team meetings for the sake of having team meetings, rather than just go without he flow and just get on with it.

      Ex-aussy cricket coach now NZ director of cricket used to get the same treatment especially from Warney, who used to whinge about the endless meetings for the sake of having meetings, and info overload , and biomechanics’ quirk’s , rather than just getting on with it and actually playing the sport cricket , not Biomechanics. Still Shane Watto Watson, is still getting injured all the time, so Watoo hasn’t changed.

      Either way a good choice. And Tony Iro, hardly inspired confidence anyway. He flicked around the squad with the 2 games he had dropping Shaun Johnson, and they got smashed under Tony Iro’s 2 games in charge, so he hardly inspired any confidence that they wanted to play for him anyway, or fight for there squad spots in the team for him.

      A good choice, more aussies have done better than kiwi coaches there it seems. Good luck NZ Warriors 2013.
      And Elliot did get the panthers to finish 2nd on the 2010 table at the end of the regular season.
      Maybe Matt Elliot is a Brian Smith type coach. Good at re-building, and developing young talent, Elliot did this at the raiders too.
      Brian Smith did this at the Dragons,knights, and roosters.
      But maybe both Elliot and Brian Smith if history shows, can’t seem to get the team to the next step and win a title, and also sustain consistency over a longer period 3-5 years with a team. Time will tell with this NZ Warriors head coach job.

      • Roar Rookie

        January 23rd 2013 @ 9:11am
        Damn Straight said | January 23rd 2013 @ 9:11am | ! Report

        Wow Johnno, this post is an article in itself. It is longer than the actual article! 🙂

    • Roar Guru

      January 23rd 2013 @ 5:33am
      MG Burbank said | January 23rd 2013 @ 5:33am | ! Report

      Backline defence was far from their MAJOR problem last season. Really? How about the club’s inability to consistently complete sets? What about their lack of intensity in attack, starting with a forward pack not willing to take the other team on for eighty minutes? What about poor last-tackle options and a halfback that would go missing for large sections of games?

      If the Warriors can address those issues, backline defence will not lose them many games.

      • Columnist

        January 23rd 2013 @ 7:42am
        Tim Prentice said | January 23rd 2013 @ 7:42am | ! Report

        Sure, MG, the Warriors had a myriad of problems, everyone knows that.
        But when you have a pair of halves that were little more than turnstiles and centres that weren’t putting their bodies on the line, guess where the opposition aimed their ball carriers and strolled through?
        Those late season games by the Warriors were shameful. They looked anything but first graders.

    • January 23rd 2013 @ 6:20am
      pogo said | January 23rd 2013 @ 6:20am | ! Report

      “Naturally, I got smashed by Roarers, many of whom failed to look at the big picture.”

      Naturally and rightfully so.
      It is you who failed to look at the big picture. New Zealand rugby league needs the Warriors, which means international rugby league needs the Warriors.

      The Warriors have had worse years than last year, I know I’ve been here the whole time.

      • Columnist

        January 23rd 2013 @ 7:38am
        Tim Prentice said | January 23rd 2013 @ 7:38am | ! Report

        When I wrote that article Pogo, your men weren’t trying as professionals should, they were not competing for 80 minutes and thoroughly deserved severe criticism.
        They were damaging the Kiwis’ proud reputation as never-say-die competitors in international competitions.
        It was great to note your passion but it’s best to follow your team with your eyes open. That’s how you’ll take in the big picture
        Let us hope that 2013 sees the steel return to the Warriors’ efforts.

        • January 23rd 2013 @ 7:58am
          Pogo said | January 23rd 2013 @ 7:58am | ! Report

          I’m not disagreeing that the Warriors weren’t competing well enough, but that this is not a good reason to eject them from the competition.

          • January 23rd 2013 @ 10:03am
            Rugby Realist said | January 23rd 2013 @ 10:03am | ! Report

            Did people say drop the Roosters after an abysmal follow up season to a GF? Or the Eels?
            Did they get criticised the same way?
            I dont know if the author did but i doubt it.

            And this article had nothing to back up the claim that it was a good start by Elliot addressing the clubs issues.

            I love the warriors and hope Elliot is right, but lets wait a few games before anymore puff pieces

            • Columnist

              January 23rd 2013 @ 10:16am
              Tim Prentice said | January 23rd 2013 @ 10:16am | ! Report

              I am just pointing out that the new man has got off to a good start, giving the players a say in the operation.
              We will see if the issues are being addressed when they start playing.

        • January 23rd 2013 @ 9:32am
          Happy Hooker said | January 23rd 2013 @ 9:32am | ! Report

          To be consistent then Tim, you would also want Parramatta chucked out of the comp as well following their recent slide from the penthouse to the sh*thouse.

          • Columnist

            January 23rd 2013 @ 10:21am
            Tim Prentice said | January 23rd 2013 @ 10:21am | ! Report

            No, you don’t get it. The NZ Warriors are in an Australian sporting comp and did not look to be giving 100 per cent.
            I suggested their status should be reviewed if the effort level wasn’t raised.
            Seriously, I am a fan of their football when it is on song.

            • January 23rd 2013 @ 11:28am
              Mike said | January 23rd 2013 @ 11:28am | ! Report

              kicking the whole organisation out of the comp because of 1 bad year is ludicrous. I agree some players werent giving 100% but surely that means a review of the playing roster instead of a review of the Warriors relevance in the NRL. The Warriors open up a new audience in Nz to the NRL & are also 1 of the better supported teams in the comp. They have above average crowds & club memberships & are also capable of moments of brilliance. Maybe you are the 1 not seeing the big picture?

              • January 23rd 2013 @ 4:14pm
                Farmerj said | January 23rd 2013 @ 4:14pm | ! Report

                I agree with you completely regarding a review of the playing roster rather than their position in the comp. But sensational headlines shouting dump the Warriors is nothing new.

                Every time they have a down period some aussie journo shouts they they should be dumped but always overlooks aussie teams that are stinking the joint out.

                If the Warriors cant pay their way and are a financial liability then they should go. But having a poor year is not reason enough, for any time

            • January 23rd 2013 @ 7:26pm
              Mike Scott said | January 23rd 2013 @ 7:26pm | ! Report

              Why are the Warriors given a special status whereby their very existence as an NRL side is up for question following a poor season? A poor season is a poor season, and just about every club in the NRL has had one of those in recent years. Two clubs finished below the Warriors in 2012, yet neither are anointed for review nor expulsion. The Warriors, especially since 2002, have had a level of commercial and on-field success the peer of any other NRL team (despite not winning a premiership).

              The Warriors aren’t a representative team – they are a franchise, and are no different to any other club in the NRL in that regard. You expect that the Warriors have less of a right to a poor season than other teams, and should be made to pay a worse penalty when they do, simply because they are foreign and in a competition ‘owned’ by Australians. According to your article, the Warriors have to lift their efforts to hold their place, but Parramatta and Penrith don’t – this point of view seems highly discriminatory.

              Other posters have established the benefits of having an NRL presence in NZ, but regardless, the Warriors have a right to their place in the competition, equal to any other club. The cultural roots of the club are completely immaterial and irrelevant.

              • January 23rd 2013 @ 11:15pm
                Rob9 said | January 23rd 2013 @ 11:15pm | ! Report

                Spot on Scott. Tim, your logic is irrational and your argument is falling apart.

                Suggesting the Warriors involvement in the NRL is subject to their on field performance because they’re NZ based is wrong. I’m sorry, we let them into the league and the rules should be (and are) the same for everyone across the board. The Warriors coming online opened the league up to an immediate market of 1.5 million people (with a reasonable number of them holding an interest in league) and an extended market of 4.5 million people. It’s for these sorts of reasons that teams are invited into the NRL and why they stay there.

    • January 23rd 2013 @ 7:52am
      oikee said | January 23rd 2013 @ 7:52am | ! Report

      I still think the Warriors will lose alot of games, but at the very least they wont have that soft approach and underbelly they have last year.
      You could see them behind the in-goal with heads down and nobody talking. Elliot wont allow that to happen ever again.
      A confident Warriors, a talking Warriors is a dangerous Warriors.

      • January 23rd 2013 @ 1:38pm
        Terry Kidd said | January 23rd 2013 @ 1:38pm | ! Report

        Simon Mannering was captain in 2012 when “You could see them behind the in-goal with heads down and nobody talking.” Simon Mannering is captain again in 2013 so who will be doing the in-goal talking? Who will be driving the on-field performance? If there is no change then why will the Warrioers change in 2013?

        • January 23rd 2013 @ 2:10pm
          Mike said | January 23rd 2013 @ 2:10pm | ! Report

          Simon Mannering was also the captain when they made the grand final in 2011. There were a lot of reasons why the warriors were woeful last season but I dont think Mannerings captaincy was 1 of them. He is a consumate professional & a great leader of men as judged by his peers, who unanimously selected him in a secret vote. An inspired choice for the warriors.

    • January 23rd 2013 @ 11:12am
      Beardan said | January 23rd 2013 @ 11:12am | ! Report

      The talk with Elliott at the Panthers was he let the players run the show. If thats true and if the same happens at the Warriors, it wont be long til the bloke is back in Australia popping up on the Footy show giving his 5c worth on ‘5 in the bin’ with that massive jibberer Ray Hadley and the great man Slats.

      • Columnist

        January 23rd 2013 @ 4:37pm
        Tim Prentice said | January 23rd 2013 @ 4:37pm | ! Report

        Would any professional rugby league coach let his players “run the show.” I think not.
        Elliott likes to give his men a say in their destiny. I am all for that. One in, all in can work wonders.

    • January 23rd 2013 @ 7:27pm
      Gus Paella said | January 23rd 2013 @ 7:27pm | ! Report

      I wish the warriors good luck this season although with a flashy and inconsistant halfback and no solid 5/8 i fear their Captain will have to make many metres off his own line. Their dynamic backline will be a key for them, hopefully Locke has an injury free season for all NRL fans.

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