Iro happy to wait and see over Warriors role

DUNCAN JOHNSTONE
Last updated 05:00 10/04/2014
Tony Iro
Getty Images
OPTIMISTIC: NZRL high performance manager Tony Iro believes the recently announced Kiwis tour to England next year will be received positively by the players.

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Tony Iro says he would "never rule out" another tilt at the Warriors job.

For now though, he's happy to let Andrew McFadden step into head coach's role, with the Australian having been elevated from assistant to take over from the departed Matthew Elliott after just five rounds of the new season.

McFadden has the rest of the season to prove himself.

Meanwhile, other long-term coaching options continue to be bandied around. Among them is the name of Iro, who was part of the club's coaching structure from 2005-12, including the last two games of that final season when he replaced the sacked Brian McClennan in charge of the NRL side.

Iro says he's happy in his current role as high performance manager for New Zealand Rugby League and has a major assignment on his hands implementing a new strategic plan for the national body.

But, as he noted wryly, "anything can happen" in the turbulent world of rugby league.

"I've had a number of role changes over the last 24 months so I'd never rule it out," he said when asked about putting his name forward if the opportunity arose.

"I'm not even considering it [now]. At this stage I'm learning plenty with the job that I'm doing in terms of management and staffing and implementing programmes and plans and I'm really enjoying it. It's all hands on deck here, so that's basically been our complete focus and will be for the next 12-18 months anyway.

"But it is rugby league and you never say never. I enjoy being involved in football, put it that way."

Iro admitted surprise at Elliott's removal so early in the season but backed McFadden "to make a good fist" of the job.

"He's a pretty level-headed guy, Andrew, and I'm pretty sure he will put his best foot forward." McFadden's new role has already impacted on Iro and the NZRL though.

McFadden was recently appointed as Steve Kearney's assistant with the Kiwis but has had to quickly step aside to concentrate fully on the Warriors.

That had the NZRL send out an SOS to former assistant Ivan Cleary on Tuesday to provide assistance for the Anzac test against Australia in Sydney on May 2.

After helping at last year's World Cup, Cleary had similarly stepped aside so he could concentrate on his increasingly successful job with the Penrith Panthers.

Cleary has now agreed to provide technical assistance and the NZRL will appoint a fulltime assistant in time for the Four Nations tournament in October.

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"It's more a disappointment than a setback," Iro said of McFadden's removal from the Kiwis management.

"Obviously he was really keen on getting involved with the team. But the fact we haven't been in camp or had input into players means it isn't a setback ... it's business as usual." While Cleary's input would be limited, Iro anticipated Kearney would catch up with Cleary in Sydney soon.

Iro said the Anzac test was "a very short campaign" involving two training sessions.

"Stephen is confident in his ability to get the job done. There is no real panic at this stage."

Iro confirmed that the Kiwis management had drawn up a "very big" list of Kiwi players involved in the NRL who would be eligible for selection and that included Sonny Bill Williams.

- Fairfax Media

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