The Warriors need to pounce on Tim Sheens now that his time at the Wests Tigers is unravelling.
That's the view of former Kiwis player Dean Lonergan who played under Sheens when he coached the Raiders and describes the man who has won four premierships with two different clubs as the NRL's "best coach by far".
Sheens was last night dumped as the Tigers' NRL coach at a board meeting in Sydney. He has been offered a new role at the Tigers but hasn't indicated if he will take it up.
Details of Sheens' ability to leave with two years left on his $A450,000 a year contract were murky, especially with the Tigers cash-strapped.
But the circumstances could make him more affordable to the Warriors and Lonergan says the New Zealand club shouldn't hesitate.
"In my opinion Tim Sheens would be the best coach the Warriors could get. The fact that he is now available, they would be mad if they don't now swoop on him," said Lonergan, who is a former Warriors marketing manager and board member.
"I know for a fact that he has always wanted to coach here - he sees this as a potential behemoth and should be a powerhouse."
Lonergan claimed Sheens had "been hampered" at the Tigers by budget issues and "they are always monster things". But the financial clout and vision of Warriors owners Owen Glenn and Eric Watson could free him up to do "something special" in New Zealand.
"The Warriors have the potential to assemble a superstar team and Sheens is the perfect guy to manage it.
"Four months ago, they came out saying they want to be the best club in Australasia, they want to really make a mark and have the best facilities. Well here's the opportunity to go and get the best coach.
"The best coach by far is Tim Sheens, let him have the money and authority to build the team of his dreams and we will see something special here."
While it appears Sheens, 61, had lost the Tigers' dressing room, Lonergan said he had shown an ability to mould superstar players at the Raiders when his roster included the likes of Mal Meninga, Laurie Daley, Ricky Stuart, Gary Belcher and Bradley Clyde.
"He managed to harness all their talents and put it on the field to win on a regular basis. That's hard to do when you have all the egos and different styles floating around."
Lonergans' thoughts were echoed by current Aussie star Willie Mason who was in Auckland yesterday to promote the Fight For Life boxing extravaganza he will compete in.
"Tim Sheens is a very structured coach and he would fix a lot of things up," Mason said of luring Sheens to the Warriors.
"The Warriors have one of the best playing rosters and he is one of the smartest tactical coaches with a great track record."
Tigers chief executive Stephen Humphreys said Sheens was disappointed by the decision and the club would give him as long as he needed to make his mind up about the new role. Senior Tigers players were advised of the news just before the press conference last night.
Humphreys said that he was unaware of any discussion between Sheens and the New Zealand Warriors. The Warriors were yesterday refusing to comment on the Sheens scenario.
Meanwhile, Australian betting agency Betstar have installed Storm assistant coach David Kidwell as the favourite to land the Warriors top job, at odds of $2.50.
Kidwell, a former New Zealander international, received a second interview for the coaching role over the last few days, as has Raiders assistant Justin Morgan (at $3.50), and Roosters assistant Matthew Elliott (at $17).
Sheens was sitting at $6 odds to land the role.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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