Unsuccessful Warriors coaching applicant Tony Iro has responded to a brutal assessment of the culture in the club from back-rower Elijah Taylor by admitting coaches "changed too much" this season after a 2011 grand final appearance.
Taylor said some players had a bad attitude and "cruised" this season and that pre-season training was not hard enough, meaning the Warriors faded badly at the back end of games.
Taylor was also openly critical of his club for taking too long to appoint a coach and spoke out in favour of Iro as reports emerged that Matthew Elliott had been handed the post on a two year deal.
"Some players' attitudes weren't up to standard," said Taylor. "I can't name names but there were a lot of players just coasting and not on their toes and not working hard on defence. It showed in the way we played, just the attitude thing from a lot of the players. Our pre-season wasn't as hard as the one prior. I think the training wasn't too hard and we paid the price at the back end of games. Teams blew us off the park.
"That is not going to happen this pre-season. We're going to get touched up every session."
After losing to Manly in the 2011 grand final, the Warriors finished 14th with eight wins and 16 losses. Taylor's comments are the most damning from any player at an unsuccessful club this season.
Told of the criticism, Iro said: "I don't think it's one or two things. There's probably something to what he said. We had injuries to senior blokes as well. We probably changed a bit too much from the previous year."
Iro said he had not been advised of Elliott's appointment. Underlining the disquiet at Mt Smart, Taylor joined clubmate Feleti Mateo in making it clear the players wanted Iro in the top job and were unhappy with the delays in making an appointment.
Taylor said: "Personally, (I think) it's taken too long. I feel sorry for Tony Iro. He's in limbo just like the players and he's got family and stuff like that. The Wests Tigers are in the same boat. I was talking to Benji and they don't know what's going on either. That's the NRL. We're in a business. As a player, you just want to get the coach and say 'let's go'. Our pre-season is two weeks away, three weeks away. It's better knowing now.
"I don't know what's going on but I'm a footy player. That's my job, I just have to do my job.
"Players all want Tony to be coach. He's been there for seven years now. The majority of our team are Toyota Cup players now and Tony's brought us all through. I don't understand why he doesn't get a shot. He's been assistant coach for the Kiwis, assistant coach of the NRL side for the last four years, including last year which was a grand final year.
"The year before, he was the attack coach and Ivan (Cleary) was the defensive coach.
"He's a tough coach and he would do it really well.
"(This year) he was chucked in the deep end, that was his job interview I suppose and it's not very fair. He needs a proper shot.
"I'm always hitting up Simon (Mannering) every day. I'm, like, 'have you heard anything, have you heard anything?' He's like 'I haven't talked to them since awards, since presso night'. We're getting nothing at all."
Iro said he was appreciative of the players' backing. "(The players) have been publicly supportive of me - that doesn't get you the job," he said.
- Sydney Morning Herald
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