Matthew Johns hits out at Warriors owners

Last updated 15:48 11/04/2014
Owen Glenn
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NO CLUE: Many feel Warriors co-owner Owen Glenn should stick to business and keep well away from the Warriors.

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The Warriors continue to be examined by Australian league identities as New Zealand's NRL club lurches from crisis to crisis.

The on-field battles that cost coach Matthew Elliott his job on Monday have turned into a boardroom squabble between co-owners Sir Owen Glenn and Eric Watson.

Former Australian star Matthew Johns, who fronts television shows and writes on the game across the Tasman, said the Warriors' current problems could be traced back to the decision to let coach Ivan Cleary go at the end of the 2011 season.

"The suits running the Warriors ... know little about rugby league," he said.

Cleary was enticed to unfashionable Penrith.

The irony is Johns is adamant that Cleary "will soon become regarded as rugby league's premier coach" for his growing deeds in western Sydney.

Johns was mystified how the Warriors let Cleary go and continued the club's trend of being "coach-killers".

"What Cleary achieved at the New Zealand Warriors was remarkable," Johns wrote in the Daily Telegraph.

"He was handed the club in 2006 as a rookie coach, a club with huge pressure and expectation, a club which had sacked its previous five coaches since its inception in 1995.

"Some saw it as an impossible job. No matter, he went to work and soon afterwards got them back into finals football.

"By the time Cleary left the Warriors at the end of season 2011, he'd built a club which not only made the 2011 grand final, but had so much depth and quality that they won the under-20s competition and were grand finalists in the NSW Cup.

"When he'd taken over in 2006 many questioned whether the Warriors had a future in the NRL. When he left his post, most were predicting a second New Zealand side in the not-too-distant future.

"The suits running the Warriors, however, showed how little they understood and appreciated the job Cleary had done and how little they know about rugby league by appointing Brian McClennan as his successor. A man with zero NRL experience.

"It took six years for Cleary to build that club into a powerhouse and only six months for McClennan to knock it all down.

"McClennan was sacked after one year and replaced by Matt Elliott. Elliot was sacked on Sunday.

"Cleary remains the only coach never to be sacked from the Warriors."

Johns said Cleary had overcome the early speed bumps associated with rebuilding at Penrith and was set to reap his rewards.

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Now the Warriors wait to see if Andrew McFadden can do something similar with what he has inherited from Elliott.

- Fairfax Media

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