'We let him down': Warriors players feel responsible

Author
Christopher Reive, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Mon, 22 Jun 2020, 12:40PM
Tohu Harris. (Photo / Photosport)
Tohu Harris. (Photo / Photosport)

'We let him down': Warriors players feel responsible

Author
Christopher Reive, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Mon, 22 Jun 2020, 12:40PM

Warriors forward Tohu Harris has admitted the players feel responsible for the club firing head coach Stephen Kearney.

Kearney was axed following the team's 40-12 loss to South Sydney on Friday night, a game where the Warriors blew a number of opportunities and struggled defensively.

Despite signing a new contract in early 2019 to remain in the role until 2022, the club's management group made the decision to move on from the former Kiwis World Cup-winning coach.

"When you look at the final score, I know it looks bad on the scoreboard, but we felt as players that we let the coaches down," Harris said.

"The plan was there we just didn't execute it. We had a number of opportunities, a number of moments where we left points out on the field. To have that, the call they made on the back of that performance, the players we were the ones that let them down. It's pretty disappointing.

"I'm feeling for Mooks (Kearney) and his family now because I feel personally that it wasn't deserved, especially with the players and how we feel about how we let him down."

Kearney delivered the news to the playing group on Saturday afternoon at their base in Terrigal on Australia's Central Coast, with assistant coach Todd Payten taking the reins in the interim.

Harris said there was a feeling of shock through the playing group upon hearing the news; particularly with so many of the players have close ties to Kearney. Harris himself said if Kearney wasn't the Warriors coach, we wouldn't have joined the club.

"No one really saw this coming and there are a lot of us who have worked with him and been close to him for a number of years now, like Adam Blair has known him since he was 16 years old.

"Especially in this situation where he was the one person holding the team together, we're just all a bit shocked and are sort of left scrambling pretty much.

"If (Kearney) wasn't in Auckland, me and my family, we don't come here."

While dealing with the news, the team will have to turn their attention to what shapes up as a huge test against the Melbourne Storm on Friday night, a team the Warriors have only beaten once in their last 10 encounters – a 28-14 win at Mt Smart Stadium in 2015.

"No one really knows what to say other than Todd and Roger (Tuivasa-Sheck) spoke about moving forward; that's the only thing we can do. It's been a huge shock and we're still pretty sad about the news."