New Warriros coach Matt Elliott has opted for local talent for one of his two assistants after making an "instant connection" with Ricky Henry.
Henry, who has coached top Auckland club Richmond and the Auckland Vulcans, was confirmed last night in his new NRL role.
Elliott will name a second assistant in the near future and that coach is expected to be an overseas appointment.
The pair of assistants take over from Tony Iro, who departed the Warriors last week, deciding not to partner Elliott.
Henry has been in the Warriors system since 2008, when he was an assistant development coach. He has also coached the New Zealand under-18s and has matured in his role with the Vulcans, who play in the New South Wales Cup.
Elliott said his first impressions of Henry quickly led him to offering the Aucklander a promotion.
"The first time I met Ricky was to discuss the Vulcans and his role with the team," Elliott said.
"The way he connected purely on a personal level was so impressive from the outset, but he also came across powerfully with his skill set in both rugby league and professional terms.
"I instantly saw him as being a key part of our NRL coaching staff and the club's vision."
The pair were at Auckland's Cornwall Park yesterday watching some Junior Warriors trial matches, involving prospects from either side of the Tasman. Henry was buzzing.
"It's a huge honour and thrill for me to be given this opportunity by the club," he said.
"The Warriors gave me my big break in the first place with the development squad and to now have a role working with Matt and the NRL side is everything I could want.
"I've been fortunate to benefit from coaching the Vulcans and also the New Zealand under-18s, roles which allowed me to remain in contact with a lot of Warriors players. There are also a lot of other players still with us who came through the development programme when I was involved. Now I want to do all I can to support Matt, to develop as a coach, and to make a difference as we all work together to make our club the best it can be." Henry is a former centre, who played for the Warriors reserves in the club's early years, and he was in the South Sydney NRL squad in 1999. He also played for the Junior Kiwis, New Zealand Residents and New Zealand Maori.
Warriors general manager football operations Dean Bell said Henry's rise underlined the value of the coaching pathways in place.
"When Ricky left to take on his job with the Vulcans, it was a vital stage of his development," Bell said. "We've always seen a future for him at the Warriors."
The Warriors start their preseason training tomorrow. Elliott and his strength and conditioning coaches Carl Jennings and Ruben Wiki are determined to get the squad into shape for a 2013 campaign that must show considerable improvement on this year's shoddy season. CLUB OFFICIALS have ruled out any meaningful play to sign returning star Israel Folau, despite the Warriors still having plenty of movement in their salary cap. They believe Folau will sign with the Parramatta Eels, after abandoning his multi-million dollar contract with the AFL after two years.
- Sunday Star Times
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