Kemp: Doyle is Warriors' best signing yet

TONY KEMP
Last updated 08:15 08/06/2014
Jim Doyle
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TOP EXECUTIVE: Jim Doyle will take over from Wayne Scurrah as CEO of the Warriors next year.

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OPINION: Jim Doyle could go down in history as the best signing the Warriors have made.

Forget the big name players who have come and gone and those who are still playing. Doyle is the man who can take the club to a new level.

That's a big statement but believe me, this guy is that good. He is a world class administrator.

He arrives with a proven track record in rugby league, a man who knows how to work the commercial and community sides of the game.

Don't forget Doyle took over the New Zealand Rugby League when it was in disarray and had a top level commission from the government's sporting agency investigating its governance.

Doyle's application to be chief executive came from left field but, by all accounts, he blew them away with his interview and his vision which was entitled "More Than Just A Game".

That became the blueprint to turn the game around which is exactly what happened under his time there.

Doyle's tenure with the NZRL also gave him an appreciation of what was and wasn't working at the Warriors in the bigger scheme of things which will be invaluable for his new position.

It's not often a Kiwi league administrator pricks the attention of the Australians but that was what Doyle managed, leading him to be head-hunted by the NRL to be their No 2 man.

He arrived in Sydney with the NRL at the centre of a commission of inquiry and, again, "Mr Fix-it" didn't let anyone down in terms of getting the game back on track.

He has become a highly respected figure on that side of the Tasman. In fact, there have been times when you've wondered if it isn't Doyle who is actually running the NRL.

The Warriors will get major benefits from Doyle's time in Australia. Now he's not just a guy who knows the New Zealand landscape but also how it is viewed from Australia. He now has the crucial understandings of the governing organisation that the Warriors operate under.

Importantly, Doyle has the ability to make the club live up to their true name as the New Zealand Warriors.

Despite the club being the only Kiwi franchise, the Warriors haven't always been perceived as New Zealand's team. Old loyalties to clubs like Manly and the Canterbury Bulldogs still run deep in this country.

Getting some wider parochialism going around the Warriors can only be good for the outfit.

Wayne Scurrah, the man who Doyle replaces, can leave with his head held high.

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Scurrah has had commercial success off the field and on it he's overseen two grand finals appearances during his nine years in charge.

It's now about marrying up those two areas a bit better.

Scurrah has had a good run at the helm of the club and there aren't many CEOs on the NRL that can match his longevity which speaks volumes about his drive and adaptability.

In announcing the changing of the guard in the front office it was interesting to see the club reaffirm their commitment to Mt Smart.

That has been the spiritual home of the club and their flirtations with Eden Park have never felt comfortable.

But is Mt Smart really the future of the club? I'm not sure.

I always felt the winter codes in greater Auckland missed a great opportunity when the city and the government abandoned plans for a waterfront stadium that could accommodate league, rugby and football.

As far as league is concerned under the current status quo, Mt Smart is certainly a better option than Eden Park or Western Springs.

But clearly there is work to be done and the club needs to convince the council about that. Someone is going to have to make a big investment to get the place upgraded.

If the Warriors are committed to staying there, then why doesn't league look at the bigger picture and turn the facility into a real headquarters for the sport?

Mt Smart should be housing a high-performance centre where the country's best talent gathers. It should be the base of the Kiwis as well as the Warriors. It should be the nursery and become synonymous with the game.

I look with envy at the way other sports like rowing, triathlon and cycling have established centralised facilities in the Waikato to develop their elite athletes.

It's about time rugby league did something similar.

- Sunday News

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