NZ Warriors deny Kearney could get top job

BEN STANLEY
Last updated 05:00 17/08/2012
Stephen Kearney
Getty Images
HEADING TO PENROSE?: There have been suggestions Stephen Kearney could be in the Warriors coaches box for Sunday's NRL match against Penrith.

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Warriors chief executive Wayne Scurrah has poured cold water on rumours surrounding a meeting with former Eels coach Stephen Kearney, saying it is "not a knee-jerk reaction" to the club's recent run of poor form.

Scurrah, first-grade coach Brian McClennan and assistant Tony Iro will meet with Kearney this weekend, with the Kiwis coach set to move to New Zealand after being axed from the Eels' top job.

Given the Warriors' recent form, which has seen the club lose their past five matches and drop out of playoff contention, there was speculation McClennan was under pressure to keep his job, and that Kearney was being eyed as a potential replacement if results did not turn around.

However, Scurrah said the meeting with Kearney was planned about three weeks ago to coincide with the national coach's meeting with New Zealand Rugby League management in Auckland.

"It's been something that's been on the cards well before the team lost the chance to compete in the finals," he said. "It's not a knee-jerk reaction to the last two weeks' results, I can assure you of that."

Scurrah said a potential role as the Warriors' second assistant coach would be raised at the meeting.

"That's one of the options. What's certainly going to happen is we're adding more resources to football next year," he said.

Scurrah also denied rumours Kearney would appear alongside McClennan in the coaching box when the Warriors took on the Panthers on Sunday.

Meanwhile, McClennan admitted the Warriors had been well below par, and accepted responsibility for the poor form.

His side have conceded 97 points over the past fortnight, with 45-4 and 52-12 defeats to the Sharks and Cowboys, respectively.

"It's been really, really poor form by us the previous two weeks, and we're desperate to turn it around," McClennan said.

"I drive the bus. I'm responsible for the results at the end of the day. When I say, ‘it's not about me', that's in terms of, I like players not to have that pressure on them.

"At the end of the day, what's happened is we've all got pressure on us as a club. We've got members and fans that have expectations . . . and we've not lived up to those.

"We're working really hard here to turn this slump around," he said.

The Warriors sit 13th on the NRL with 20 points.

The points tally means the side will miss the NRL top eight for just the second time in the past six seasons.

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McClennan believed the seeds for the poor finish were sown earlier in the season.

"There were games we should have put to bed and we didn't," the former Kiwis and Leeds Rhinos coach said.

"The Manly one in Perth was probably the straw that turned out to break the camel's back in a lot of senses and [we] just never recovered as well from that as we should have," he said.

"That's a learning curve.

"We ended up a team with a lot of expectation, and like Sydney City and Parramatta before them, it's been three years in a row now when one team that made the grand final just fell away and the other carried on."

- © Fairfax NZ News

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