As the New Zealand Warriors coaching saga apparently inches towards a conclusion, Elijah Taylor has expressed frustration at the time taken to appoint a successor to Brian McClennan and launched an extraordinary attack on teammates who undermined Tony Iro's bid to gain the role on a permanent basis.
Although the Kiwis are focused for tomorrow's trans-Tasman test at Dairy Farmers Stadium, ongoing uncertainty about the identity of the Warriors' head coach for next season continues to fester among the four squad members contracted to the NRL club.
Taylor, a junior member of the quartet with only 44 first grade games, articulated the shared concerns of club captain Simon Mannering, Ben Matulino and playmaker Shaun Johnson as rumours linked axed Wests Tigers and current Kangaroos coach Tim Sheens to the position, although Matthew Elliott - who was sacked as Penrith's head coach last year - is reportedly poised to sign a three-year deal.
Elliott was originally aligned to former Kiwi David Kidwell's now abandoned attempt to make his head coaching debut at Mt Smart, leaving the Australian as a candidate to assume the top job that had been reserved for Melbourne Storm supremo Craig Bellamy until he turned down a A$4 million offer to break his contract with the new premiers a year ahead of schedule.
The endless speculation has clearly irritated Taylor as his third test appearance looms, with the lock and designated backup to hooker Issac Luke irked by the Warriors' lethargy in setting plans in place for next season, despite chief executive Wayne Scurrah's assurances that an announcement was imminent.
“Personally it's taken far too long.
"I feel sorry for Tony Iro, he's in limbo just as the players are.
“As a player you want to get the coach right. The pre-season's only three weeks away, so it's better knowing now.”
Iro has applied for the top job and indicated he would be willing to spend next season as a caretaker until a better credentialled mentor, namely Bellamy, could be lured across the Tasman.
Taylor was critical of the secrecy surrounding the Warriors' next move, saying the playing group had been unfairly kept out of the loop.
An unabashed admirer of Iro, who guided the team for the last two games of a dismal season after McClennan was culled, Taylor said the decision was straightforward: sign up the club stalwart on a permanent basis.
“The players all want Tony to be the coach. The majority of our team are Toyota Cup players and Tony's brought us through."
Ironically the players who supposedly revere Iro hardly enhanced his job prospects by flopping against St George Illawarra and Canberra in the two final rounds, prompting a stinging rebuke by the hard-working back rower.
“Some players' attitudes weren't up to standard,” he said, breaking the unwritten rule of criticising his colleagues, albeit anonymously.
- © Fairfax NZ News
Who do you think will win the Rugby League World Cup?