Todd Payten has rejected the Warriors’ head coaching offer.
Todd Payten has rejected the Warriors’ head coaching offer.

TV host stunned by coaching bombshell

The New Zealand Warriors are still looking for a new head coach after interim coach Todd Payten revealed on NRL 360 on Monday that he had been offered - and rejected - the role.

The exchange appeared to stun show's hosts Ben Ikin and Paul Kent after Payten revealed the bombshell on the first question.

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It had been long expected that Payten would be high on the Warriors hit list after the encouraging performances from the club despite being housed in Australia due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Payten took the reigns of the club after former coach Stephen Kearney was unceremoniously sacked in June.

But it hadn't been leaked despite the offer going through a week ago.

"I had a job interview 10 to 14 days ago. It went well. I'd been offered the job last Monday and I told the club I'm going to turn it down," Payten said. "It just wasn't the right opportunity for myself and my family at this time being."

Ben Ikin was stunned.

"You're telling us you were offered the head coaching job of the New Zealand Warriors and turned it down?"

Payten replied: "It's not an easy decision, something I agonised over for a few days but in the end, it was the first time I've put my family first in the decision. It just wasn't the right timing."

Ben Ikin was stunned by the bombshell
Ben Ikin was stunned by the bombshell

The admission shocked the host with both Ikin and Paul Kent seemingly scrambling.

Payten said there was some family pain behind the decision with his father-in-law undergoing chemotherapy.

"With the COVID thing, for her to travel back and forth is very very difficult so that's a big part of it," he said. "There are some other issues I don't want to make public but that's just my decision, I've made it, I'm well aware it's tough for everyone. The club was shocked and disappointed but moving forward, my focus is on getting this side prepared as well as we can week to week."

It was a shock admission as in the show preceding NRL 360 on Fox League, NRL Tonight, The Australian's Brent Read had reported Payten was the favourite to take the job.

Payten said he still has another 12-month contract as an assistant coach and said any new coach would know that he has an assistant coach who is NRL ready.

The interim Warriors coach also teased another opportunity with Kent identifying it as the North Queensland Cowboys job.

He said he wanted to return to Australia for family, having alerted the Cowboys of his interest although the group have not entered into the recruitment process as yet.

The Cowboys are on the lookout for a new coach after premiership winning mentor Paul Green was told he would no longer be required after this season.

Payten said it had been a challenging season but he has no doubt that he could take on a head coaching role.

He added the team was "respectful" and "ready to learn" but admitted there were some personnel changes he would suggest.

"We need a big body in the middle of the park and I reckon we're short a strike centre," he said. "We're very skilful, we need some good leaders, some strong voices that can bring those guys who are the level below that up and push the group."

As for the next coach of the Warriors, Payten said the side need "a good teacher who can communicate well and teach them the game of footy, not just the skills of the game but the actual game itself".

The Warriors have won four games this season, including last week’s match against the Tigers.
The Warriors have won four games this season, including last week’s match against the Tigers.

 

As the conversation wrapped up, Ikin still seemed surprised and congratulated Payten for his decision.

"Congratulations on making such a brave decision, I can't remember the last time a coach knocked back a head coaching role - I think it may have been Craig Bellamy and it turned out well for him," he said. "But more than that, we wish you all the very best particularly your wife and your family through what I'm sure has been a pretty tough time."

Ikin admitted Payten's reveal "knocked me for six - I was not expecting to hear that tonight".

Kent said it was "a sign of his maturity as a coach".

He pointed to the time that Bellamy was offered the Wests Tigers head coaching role but hindsight has been kind as he took the Melbourne Storm coaching role.

Reportedly there are three coaches on the Warriors hit list for the vacant coaching role.

Originally published as TV host stunned by coaching bombshell


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