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The buck stops with Kearney - new Warriors owner

Author
Radio Sport / NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 26 Sep 2019, 10:15AM
Mark Robinson, flanked by Warriors legends Ruben Wiki and Stacey Jones at this week's awards function. Photo / Photosport

The buck stops with Kearney - new Warriors owner

Author
Radio Sport / NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 26 Sep 2019, 10:15AM

The buck stops with coach Steve Kearney and football manager Brian Smith.

That's the declaration from new Warriors owner Mark Robinson, who also slammed the lack of investment by previous owner Eric Watson.

While CEO Cameron George cleared Kearney of any blame for a rotten 2019, preferring to blast the attitude of some players, Autex Industries CEO Robinson was less forgiving.

While Kearney is assured of remaining as coach going into the 2020 season, time may be running out if he can't turn results and performances around.

Robinson told the Radio Sport Breakfast that Kearney was close to operating with the team he wanted, but admitted Australia-based players were reluctant about signing for the underperforming Auckland NRL outfit.

"Brian Smith and Stephen Kearney - that's where the buck stops," said Robinson.

"They know this year isn't acceptable and next year has got to be better.

"We're not going to make (football department) changes at this point until we sit down and talk about it. We need to make some changes to be a better team next year.

"Just like a business, if you are not getting the performance out of people who work for you they, of course are on a short rope.

"To be fair to Stephen he's had a team which hasn't been his team over last couple of years.

"He's slowly getting the players he want, he's got most of the ones…there's a couple more he'd like for next season, then it's up to him because it is his team. At the moment it's a team he was given."

Autex has become the sole owner, after buying out the Carlaw Heritage Trust's two-thirds share. Robinson is the Warriors' senior director, while Autex managing director Rob Croot is the club chairman.

Robinson said they were still chasing a few players.

"We've got a few we are after, we missed out on a few this year," he said.

"We've got to get our club into order and make people want to come to our club. We could make it the best footy club in the NRL, and turn it into a juggernaut.

"It's very difficult to get them to come but if you make it really attractive and there's a good environment, and the place is smart, they'll want to come. But at the moment we need to tidy a few things up."

Robinson described his relationship with CEO Cameron George as "really close", something which has been built over the past year.

He said Autex was a strong company which would bring proper investment into the club for the first time in 15 to 20 years.

"Watson sucked everything out of it," said Robinson, whose father started sponsoring league 40 years ago.

"Last year, the trust didn't have the cash they probably needed so we sort of just sat there. Trusts run completely different…we're a business and the Warriors need to be a business as well as a footy club.

"It's at a critical point now where we need to get the fans' confidence back. We're going to take a deep breath, do a few reviews, and then in November we'll make a few changes, a few decisions.

"You don't buy a business unless you know you can improve it."

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