Elliott talks his way into top job at Warriors
Matthew Elliott ... the new coach of the New Zealand Warriors. Photo: Getty Images
MATT ELLIOTT has always been superb at talking a good game. Even if his sides hadn't actually played good games, his ability to be entertaining and engaging meant you believed him.
The Warriors, in their search for a new coach, believed him too. And hired him.
''We got the man that shone right through that process,'' said Warriors boss Wayne Scurrah, adding that Elliott ''blew the socks off'' chairman Bill Wavish with his vision for the club.
Elliott, who was yesterday installed as Warriors coach for two years, emphasised his knack of saying the right things at the right time when the reaction by the Warriors players to the snubbing of Tony Iro - who had been caretaker coach of the club after Brian McClennan's sacking - was put to him.
''It shows the players can develop a high level of trust, confidence and loyalty to the staff,'' Elliott said. ''That's a fantastic thing.''
Elijah Taylor, the young back-rower, had said on Thursday the players wanted Iro as coach. Even yesterday, after the confirmation that Elliott would be coach, fullback Kevin Locke said via social media he was ''gutted'' for Iro. But Elliott, who said he hoped Iro would stay on as an assistant, turned that negative into a positive. He will need to do it again. While Elliott's appointment has been met with some disappointment from Warriors players, elsewhere it was received with some surprise.
Elliott, the former Penrith and Canberra coach, was not required as an assistant at Sydney Roosters under Trent Robinson, and had approached the Warriors about the position.
The Warriors had made Melbourne's Craig Bellamy their No.1 target, but when the premiership-winning coach told officials this week he would not break his deal with the Storm to coach them in 2013, they appointed Elliott.
Scurrah, though, maintained the Warriors had got their man.
''We said we would look at every available opportunity and we've done that,'' he said. ''Contrary to reports in the newspaper, Matthew is not the last man standing. Matthew was the person we wanted and the person we got at the end of the process.''
He said only one coach, whom he declined to name, pulled out, ''a couple of weeks ago because of another opportunity''.
Elliott said there was ''an unbelievable amount of [salary] cap space'', which put the Warriors in a strong position. But the club's desire to give Elliott the resources needed elsewhere also attracted the coach.
''You have a unique talent pool here,'' Elliott said. ''You have a way of playing rugby league that also sits in the unique bracket. It's pretty exciting.''