Last man standing ... Matthew Elliott. Photo: Getty Images
FROM very early on, following the departure of Brian McClennan, the Warriors made Craig Bellamy their target. Which is why it has taken until now for Matthew Elliott to be appointed as the new coach of the club - and why so many others have gone by the wayside.
First came Stephen Kearney, the current New Zealand national coach and former Parramatta coach, who was initially favoured as, in effect, the back-up option. But Kearney grew frustrated by the wait, and fearing the Warriors were holding out for Bellamy, the Melbourne coach, ultimately decided to withdraw his application.
What followed was a host of coaches who were said to have withdrawn their interest, but according to others, including officials at the Warriors, had not. Justin Morgan, the Canberra assistant, realised he would not get the job and withdrew his interest.
The Herald was also told yesterday that David Kidwell began telling people he had pulled out of the running this week - not long after being informed he had not been successful.
The Warriors felt, after a coach in McClennan who had been untried in the NRL previously - despite success for New Zealand and in Super League - they should appoint an experienced coach, rather than one, such as Morgan or Kidwell, with potential only. And they did not wish to appoint a coach for one season only, in order to make a play for Bellamy in 2014.
They chose Elliott even with Brian Smith and Tim Sheens, both sacked from Sydney Roosters and Wests Tigers this year, available.
While Warriors chief executive Wayne Scurrah would not confirm the appointment of Elliott yesterday, he did admit a decision had been made. ''We're only days away from making an announcement,'' Scurrah would only say. The formal announcement will be made at a press conference in Auckland this morning.
Elliott's appointment could have big ramifications for the Tigers. Officials from that club had been hoping that their sacked coach, currently in Townsville with the Australian squad preparing for tomorrow night's Test, would attract interest from the Warriors, knowing they cannot afford to pay Sheens the $900,000 which the terms of his contract would require.
Now, with Sheens without an NRL position next year, the Tigers will be either forced to pay him out, or convince him to stay in another capacity.
Meanwhile, unsuccessful Warriors coaching applicant Tony Iro has responded to a brutal assessment of the culture in the club from back-rower Elijah Taylor by admitting coaches ''changed too much'' this season.
Taylor said some players had a bad attitude and ''cruised'' this season and that pre-season training was not hard enough, meaning the Warriors faded badly at the back end of games.
Told of the criticism, Iro said: ''There's probably something to what he said. We had injuries to senior blokes as well. We probably changed a bit too much from the previous year.''
with Steve Mascord