Warriors star Blake Green is hopeful their current lockdown will soon be relaxed, but he’s unsure whether they’ll be locked out entirely of this year’s NRL season.
The Warriors have made significant changes to their coaching staff, including the acquisition of former Newcastle head coach Nathan Brown in a specialist role.
Former Newcastle Knights coach Nathan Brown has landed an unexpected role across the Tasman after joining the Warriors coaching staff.
The Kiwi NRL club announced a raft of back-office changes on Thursday, confirming general manager football Brian Smith had departed after two years in Auckland while conditioning coach Alex Corvo and Canterbury Cup coach Nathan Cayless have also moved on.
A long-serving club head coach in the NRL and Super League, Brown has been contracted in a specialist role, with his pre-season priority to develop the club’s relatively youthful hookers.
Chief executive Cameron George said Brown’s role during the regular season has yet to be finalised but he won’t be with the Warriors on a full-time basis.
“Nathan has terrific credentials with his background as a coach and former player,” George said in a statement.
“He’ll work with the squad over the summer and will be used from time to time during the course of the season.”
George defended the record of another veteran coach, Smith, whose presence appeared to make an impact in 2018 when the Warriors reached the finals for the first time in seven years.
They regressed in this season, finishing 13th, and former Parramatta mentor Smith’s exit had been rumoured for several weeks before being confirmed on Thursday.
“We needed to bring in someone like Brian then who had significant experience,” George said.
“He came in to do a role and he has implemented a number of key elements, notably the new Future Warriors programme. The benefits of this will be great for us long-term.
“We also appreciate the work Alex and Nathan have done at the club. They were both keen to return to Australia for family reasons.”
The changes come in the wake of the Warriors’ ownership changing hands in September and new owner Mark Robinson ramping up the pressure on head coach Stephen Kearney to perform next season or face pressure to keep his job.
Other key signings include former Wallabies rugby union strength and conditioning coach Craig Twentyman, along with former Melbourne and Newcastle hooker Slade Griffin.
Griffin, 28, announced the end of his injury-wracked playing career earlier on Thursday and will take up a development role in Auckland.
Former Parramatta and Warriors prop Justin Morgan will take charge of the Canterbury Cup team.
Brown’s four-year reign at Newcastle ended prematurely in August when he tendered his resignation two weeks before the end of a disappointing campaign.
The 46-year-old’s first NRL head coach role was from 2003-8 with the club he served as a player, St George Illawarra.
He had Super League stints with Huddersfield and St Helens before joining Newcastle in 2016.