McClennan gutted at Warriors axing

BEN STANLEY
Last updated 09:44 21/08/2012
DANIEL GALVIN/ Fairfax NZ

Warriors coach Brian McClennan has resigned after a poor NRL season.

Brian McClennan
GRAHAME COX/Fairfax NZ Zoom
Brian McClennan fronts the media after his resignation as Warriors coach was made public.

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Warriors coach Brian McClennan said he felt the axe coming after they lost to the Panthers on the weekend.

The former Kiwis coach was shown the door - with two games to go - in the first year of a two-year contract with the Warriors.

McClennan was informed last night of the decision, which was made by the club's board.

"I could feel it," he said, of the phone call that ended his coaching tenure with the Auckland side.

"I could feel it coming."

After reaching the grand final with former coach Ivan Cleary in 2011, the Warriors have struggled in 2012, and currently sit 13th on the NRL table.

The club have lost their last six games on the trot, the second-equal worst losing streak in Warriors history.

While McClennan lamented the absence of injured key players throughout the season, he took responsibility for the horror season.

"I take all responsibility for the results this season," he said.

"I'm the head coach and we didn't get across the stripe enough times, or stop them from scoring enough times, to win some tough games."

McClennan said he was disappointed he wouldn't have the chance to learn from his mistakes next year.

"I've made some mistakes along the way, but even when I've had teams that have gone on to win premierships; I've made mistakes along the way there as well."

"Unfortunately, I won't get a chance to learn from the things I've seen, and that's the bit that gets me a bit. The things I've seen that we can improve on, I won't get to fix them up."

Assistant coach Tony Iro will be the stand-in head coach for the Warriors' final two games against the Dragons, this Saturday, and the Raiders.

Chief executive Wayne Scurrah said the club will then begin an extensive search for the "best possible" coach to fill the vacant position.

The news comes a day after Kiwis and former Eels coach Stephen Kearney met with New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) management. Kearney also met Warriors management and McClennan on the weekend.

The NZRL have said they will not stand in the way of Kearney applying for the now vacant coaching position.

Despite the club's poor season, several players have told Fairfax Media they did not want McClennan to be replaced, with utility Lewis Brown claiming it was important for the club "to not chop and change too much".

Scurrah said: "We know how disappointed Brian is and we're equally disappointed for him and for everyone who is associated with the Warriors.

"Brian is a person of wonderful character and integrity, he's so passionate about rugby league and he's put in an exceptional amount of time and effort into trying to turn the team's fortunes around.

"He brought a lot of energy to the club and made a fantastic contribution off the field with his interaction with sponsors, members and in the community.

"We wish Brian and his family all the best for the future and thank him for his efforts."

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Scurrah said the club now had the opportunity to rebuild.

"Confidence is understandably low at a time like this following the results on the field from our NRL side," he said.

"However, the club is in strong shape in all other areas. The Junior Warriors are again performing well in the NYC while we've had a season of significant growth in terms of our crowd numbers, sponsorship revenue and membership numbers. We've also strengthened and developed our work in the community.

"Our resolve now is to rebuild, as we had to after a poor season in 2009. We're confident we can recover quickly."

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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