Warriors owners aim to be 'best in Australasia'

Last updated 14:33 19/07/2012
Owen Glenn, Bill Wavish and Eric Watson
PETER MEECHAM/Fairfax NZ

BUILDING FOR FUTURE: Owners Owen Glenn (left) and Eric Watson (right), and chairman Bill Wavish at the Warriors announcement in Auckland.

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The Warriors have announced a range of initiatives they believe will make them "the best single sporting franchise in Australasia", including the establishment of new elite academy aimed at fostering young talent and a new secondary schools championship in Auckland.

Club owners Owen Glenn and Eric Watson announced the club's new direction in Auckland today.

The highlights were:

  • The formation of a Warriors Charitable Trust
  • A commitment to form a Warriors Elite Academy
  • The upgrading of training, sports science, medical, talent identification, IT and other team support facilities
  • Improved membership offers to fans outside Auckland and in Australia
  • A Vodafone Warriors Championship for Auckland secondary schools First XIIIs and significant involvement in grass roots rugby league
  • Increased Warriors merchandise range and the establishment of the club's first Warriors Shop.

They were hammered out at a board meeting in Auckland last weekend.

"These initiatives we are announcing today will pave the way for an era of unprecedented growth in the club's on-field success, profile and community presence," Warriors chairman Bill Wavish said.

"Our clear goal is to win multiple championships and to be a top sporting franchise in Australasia.

"We are going to place more emphasis on the development of local talent, supported by better facilities and less emphasis on recruiting Australian talent.

"At Owen and Eric's insistence, we will look to be first-class in everything that we do and the facilities we use."

Watson left no doubts about where the owners want to take the Warriors.

"We want this club to become the best single sporting franchise in Australasia, taking it to levels never seen before in this part of the world," he said.

"This is a conscious effort to significantly raise the bar for the Warriors as a club and as a brand.

"The Warriors Elite Academy, the Warriors Charitable Trust, the facilities and training upgrades and the other initiatives have allowed Owen and me to give tangible support to the Warriors.

"In my 11 years of ownership, we've done reasonably well; we've had some ups and some downs.

"But we are at a period now where Wayne and the team have really done the hard yards and Owen's come in at a time where we can afford now to start looking at a broader picture.

"What's come out of this thinking is really a vision."

Glenn added: "These decisions highlight the confidence of the shareholders, board and management that we are on the right track in developing New Zealand and Pacific talent with the best facilities without significantly resorting to recruiting in Australia."

Wavish believes the planned Warriors Elite Academy would create unmatched education and personal development opportunities for younger players including those involved in the Junior Warriors' NYC squad.

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"We've seen our juniors win the NYC premiership for the past two seasons and they're leading the competition again right now," he said.

"We've made a difference for young players coming into this sporting organisation but we can do so much better. With an elite academy, we can take this to another level in the area of formal education as well as the practical development of these young players in a football sense."

The formation of a Warriors Charitable Trust would lead to an increase in the Warriors' profile, presence and participation in the community.

"We have a responsibility to the community and while we are doing great work in this area we are committed to increasing our charitable work and community-based activities," said Wavish.

Wavish stated categorically that the club's single most important goal would always be straightforward - to win the NRL premiership. To do this he said it was paramount the Warriors' football staff and players were given all the tools needed to help them to achieve the ultimate.

"Our commitment is to invest in this area so our club leads the way," he said.

"It's about setting the highest possible standards and ensuring our players have all they need to perform to optimal levels."

Another key target area will be increasing the club's membership base. While this had grown substantially, CEO Wayne Scurrah believes the weekend's think-tank has established there is scope for exceptional improvement.

"We've just seen the results of a survey done in Australia which has established we're among the most popular teams in the NRL," he said.

"We continue to see exceptional levels of support for our club when we play away games. In fact the crowds for the games against Gold Coast and Brisbane were almost like home crowds. We also know there's a huge groundswell of support for us in New Zealand outside Auckland."

Scurrah said the development of grass roots relationships in rugby league was another priority.

"We're committed to maximising this in a range of ways, including creating a Vodafone Warriors Championship for Auckland secondary schools First XIIIs," he said.

"We have a strong partnership with the Auckland Rugby League and we've been working with them in several areas. With support from the owners and the board we're committed to making changes that would raise the bar for all players connected with the club, whether it is in the NRL, the NYC or with the Vulcans in the New South Wales Cup."

Watson believes the club's future is more exciting than ever.

"I've been involved for over a decade now but with Owen as a shareholder and new board members there is energy and drive to bring this to fruition," he said.

"Everyone involved in the Warriors and in rugby league should be more excited about the future than ever. We definitely are."

- Fairfax Media

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