It looks as though Auckland Rugby League will purchase a majority stake in the NZ Warriors. Good on them. They owned the club for a short period twenty years ago, and made a mess of it. Ten years ago, after the salary cap scandal, they said they wanted a greater involvement but were ignored.
Cameron McGregor, chairman of the ARL signalled in a radio interview with Tony Veitch today that the first item of business will be the settling of old scores. There will be no place on the board for Jim Doyle, former CEO and current chairman, and no, he hadn’t discussed this with Doyle, said McGregor. Poor old Veitchy doesn’t know enough about league to make the obvious observation – this is payback for the bitter dispute between the ARL and the New Zealand Rugby League in 2009-10. At the time Doyle was CEO of the NZRL.
McGregor also said that there will be big changes in the football department, although maybe not before the 2018 season commences. McGregor reckons the ARL knows a lot about football. It does not. The ARL is an administrative body for its members – amateur rugby league clubs. What he means is that heads are going to roll. Tony Iro is on the outer with the new Warriors CEO, Cameron George, with the talk being that he is going to be moved towards the door, losing his job as recruitment and development manager to become reserve grade coach. Iro has no friends in the ARL, so it’s back to the NZRL for him.
Inevitably, the Reserve grade and Under 20 coach and support staff will be drawn from the ranks of Auckland Rugby League. That may well be a good thing, unless you believe in merit based appointments. It does provide top Auckland coaches with the opportunity to advance to positions in NRL clubs.
I don’t know what this will mean for the NRL team’s performance. There might be a short term lift.
But, what does it mean for the 14-17 year olds who haven’t made Auckland rep teams and are thinking of a move to Australia? And what about players who don’t live in Auckland? The news is all bad. At present there are two pathways – ARL rep squads and the Warriors. Now there will be just one. There is more than enough talent in Auckland to fill the Warriors development group, so if you live out of Auckland, forget the Warriors. The club might keep the name ‘NZ Warriors’ but they will be the ARL Warriors.