Payten named Warriors interim coach for rest of 2020 season

Newstalk ZB / NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 23 Jun 2020, 8:00PM
Warriors interim head coach Todd Payten. (Photo / Photosport)

Payten named Warriors interim coach for rest of 2020 season

Newstalk ZB / NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 23 Jun 2020, 8:00PM

Todd Payten will be in charge of the Warriors for the remainder of the 2020 season.

The interim head coach was thrust into the role over the weekend after Stephen Kearney was axed.

Payten says the team will take it's time to find Kearney's long term replacement.

"I'm interim coach for the rest of the season. It was made clear to me that this decision was a club decision and it was based around the future and getting the best coach available."

Kearney's departure has made one thing clear to players – the Warriors are on notice.

It's been a season of inconsistencies for the Kiwi side through the opening six rounds. They've been shut out twice, shut an opponent out themselves and have looked promising on attack only to struggle once they get sight of the try line. As a result, they sit 13th on the ladder with a 2-4 record.

Speaking to media on Tuesday, Warriors back Gerard Beale said the team knew they had work to do to turn things around.

"All of us as NRL players, we're all aware of that," Beale said.

"You've seen it in the NRL, coaches having to leave midway through their contract. It's never fun, but we understand every game, every training session we do is on notice, and I'm sure that's the same with every other club."

Things came to a head for the Warriors last Friday following their 40-12 loss at the hands of the South Sydney Rabbitohs in a game where they missed a host of opportunities and failed to close down those of the opposition. Kearney was fired from his role as head coach the following morning, with Todd Payten stepping up from assistant coach to take the reins in the interim while the club looks for a permanent option.

Beale said it had been an emotionally charged few days at the Warriors camp in Terrigal, but they had to begin looking toward this Friday's tough test against the sixth-placed Melbourne Storm.

"The first couple of days everyone was quite emotional and their heads were all over the place; some were probably angry, some were confused, some were just unsure," Beale said. "But with all that, speaking about it and understanding that we have each other here, we're in this together and the way out is to work hard to still create that trust within each other and take it onto the field.

"Todd is stepping up and is going to lead us, and it's important at the moment that us as a playing group support him. It's tough for him as well. We do trust him; he's been in and around our environment for a while now so we'll focus on now and see where that takes us."

One thing Payten hopes charges is the referring.

As an insult to injury Payten says the NRL called Kearney following the loss to Souths, to explain they'd missed a high shot on wing David Fusitu'a that should have been a penalty try.

He says it's disappointing that referees continue to miss stuff like that in their games.

"That play potentially had a big bearing in the game and possibly Steve's future, so it was a really difficult one to swallow." 

This weekend's match will see plenty of changes in more areas than one. Originally set to be played in Melbourne, the match has been moved to Sydney after a recent spike in Covid-19 cases in Victoria.

In the Warriors line-up, the return of winger Ken Maumalo sees Beale drop to the reserves in one of many changes to the team from a week ago.

The suspension of hooker Wayde Egan sees Karl Lawton start in the No9 jersey, while an ankle injury to rookie second rower Eliesa Katoa brings Jack Murchie into the starting side.

On the interchange bench, talented youngsters Chanel Harris-Tavita and Isaiah Papali'i look set to return to the match-day 17 alongside Agnatius Paasi and Poasa Faamausili.

Melbourne return to full strength for the clash, with star winger Josh Addo-Carr and halfback Jahrome Hughes returning to the starting squad.

Warriors team to face the Melbourne Storm: Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, David Fusitu'a, Peta Hiku, Patrick Herbert, Ken Maumalo, Kodi Nikorima, Blake Green, Jamayne Taunoa-Brown, Karl Lawton, Lachlan Burr, Jack Murchie, Tohu Harris, Adam Blair. Interchange (from): Chanel Harris-Tavita, Poasa Faamausili, Agnatisu Paasi, Isaiah Papali'i, Gerard Beale, Adam Pompey, Josh Curran, Leivaha Pulu.