For a side that has consistently underperformed over the years, there seems no more fitting appointment than Nathan Brown as coach of the New Zealand Warriors.
Brown will take on the role in 2021, after he signed a three-year deal with the club over the weekend.
It was a seemingly quick appointment for the role where the likes of Geoff Toovey didn’t even get an interview.
For those who may have forgotten, here is a refresher for Brown’s coaching record in the NRL:
• 245 games
• 104 wins
• One draw
• 42 per cent winning record
In his nine years of coaching in the NRL, Brown made the finals four times. Let’s not forget he also won successive wooden spoons with Newcastle in 2016 and 2017.
Yes, that’s right folks, a man with consecutive wooden spoons beat out another former coach, who in his first three years at Manly took them to:
• One preliminary final
• One grand final
• One semi-final
So why did the Warriors appoint Brown? As he said in his goodby press conference last year with the Knights, he helps the battlers. The teams that need to form those foundations for success. And while that’s all well and good, is it his coaching that provides that platform?
Newcastle this year are miles ahead of what Brown had them at in his four years. And while it may seem cruel to compare this team to his wooden spoon sides of 2016-17, a case can still be made.
The years 2018 and 2019 were meant to successful for Newcastle but while they would start well, they flamed out in both years. The mental fortitude wasn’t there and that was on the coach.
However, this year’s side is different – they are not only more capable of playing finals footy, they believe it as well.
New coach Adam O’Brien has entrusted his team with more ownership and more guidance. Look at the development of David Klemmer with a new-found freedom in offloading the ball. Kurt Mann, a player trapped by his own utility value, looked to languish between reserve grade and the number 14 jersey before O’Brien placed faith with him in the five-eighth role. Before injuries forced him into the dummy half position, he was easily Newcastle’s best player all year. That development was never shown under Brown
Right now, the Warriors represent a hugely talented squad but lack a hard edge to contest for finals football. Interim coach Todd Payten has them performing admirably amidst trying conditions, where they have left their families and have had to field opposing players in their squad. Captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck leads the charge and guys like Tohu Harris, Eliese Katoa and Peta Hiku are not too far behind.
But with the era of Brown about to begin, it seems inevitable the Kiwis will revert back to their ways of showing potential early on before failing to make the top eight. Sounds strangely similar to the Knights team of old.
After years of disappointment and underachieving in the Hunter, why do the Warriors think Brown is the right man? He left the Knights in a better position than when he arrived, but they still failed to deliver on promise and potential.
It’s stupid and reckless to hire Brown just to fill in for three years until a more successful coach walks in, but that’s what we’ve come to expect from the Warriors now. They’re a club with so much promise yet they continue to fail.
And it seems with Nathan Brown’s looming appointment that trend will continue.