Iro to stay in NZ with new high performance role
Tony Iro has jumped from the Warriors to the Kiwis.
He will have a stronger influence on the Kiwis in next year's Rugby League World Cup, having today joined the NZRL in a full-time role as high performance manager.
The position sees him focus on the elite end of the sport, working closely with the Kiwis and Junior Kiwis along with other NZRL teams and coaches.
Iro turned down a chance to stay at the Warriors as an assistant to new head coach Matt Elliott.
A move to an offshore club in Australia or the UK seemed likely.
Jim Doyle, the NZRL CEO, is delighted that Iro will bring his talents to the organisation at such a key time.
"With 2013 a major year for the sport, and especially for the Kiwis, it's great to have someone of Tony's calibre involved full-time," says Doyle.
"Tony will be focused on the Kiwis defence of the World Cup, but he'll also work heavily with Tony Kemp on our high performance programmes. He'll be a great resource for the coaches in this country too."
Iro (Kiwi #606) played almost 250 first-grade games - for teams including Wigan, Manly, Eastern Suburbs and South Sydney - as well as 25 tests for the Kiwis between 1988-1998.
His most recent coaching position was as assistant coach at the Warriors, while his administrative experience with the Kiwis dates back to 2005, when he was first appointed a national selector. He has held a variety of positions with the Kiwis since, mostly recently holding the dual roles of selector and assistant coach.
He'll continue in both those posts, but, with the sport's biggest tournament less than 12 months away, he's excited about increasing his involvement.
"I'm there to give the Kiwis the best chance of defending the Rugby League World Cup," says Iro. "So I'll be looking at every part of preparation and what the team, and the staff, need to deliver their best."
Tony Kemp (the NZRL's general manager - high performance) will be the man working most closely with Iro and he knows what skills will be brought to the organisation.
"Tony has been an integral part of the Kiwis administration for eight years," says Kemp. "He helped build the culture of the current squad and he is held in high regard by both the players and the management.
"Tony understands what being a professional athlete is about and, critically, his knowledge of the game is current. Having him in the high performance manager role will allow the Kiwis to be better prepared for the World Cup and also for the NZRL to be better connected with our players on both sides of the Tasman."
Until recently, Ruben Wiki worked part-time as the NZRL's high performance manager. He left the organisation earlier this month to join the Warriors in a strength and conditioning role. That move opened the door for Iro, but, as Kemp explains, it's not a straight replacement.
"Ruben's time was split between community and high performance work. Tony's role will be high performance and Rugby League World Cup."
Iro will spend some time at the NZRL before Christmas before getting his feet properly under the desk in the New Year.