General Club Culture Part 4: The Kearney Era

mt.wellington

Warriors Orange Peeler
Jun 21, 2012
22,249
Mt. Wellington, Auckland
Following on from previous club cultures threads we have had for the last 3 coaches (Matt Elliott and Andrew McFadden) here is Stephen Kearney's on club culture thread.

https://www.nzwarriors.com/threads/club-culture-at-the-warriors-is-there-a-problem.10418/
https://www.nzwarriors.com/threads/club-culture-part-2-rumours-of-discontent.17415/
https://www.nzwarriors.com/threads/club-culture-part-3-cappys-reign.43879/

Remember this is about the Warriors club culture under Kearney. Not racial culture or more specifically Polynesian culture. Theres a thread for that also.

https://www.nzwarriors.com/threads/polynesian-culture-at-the-warriors.43986/

Improving team culture to be Stephen Kearney's first priority at Warriors
DAVID LONG
Last updated 20:45, September 13 2016

The New Zealand Warriors have turned to former player and Kiwis coach Stephen Kearney after axing yet another new head coach, Andrew McFadden.

Incoming coach Stephen Kearney says his first priority at the Warriors will be to improve the culture at the club.

Kearney made club culture a big part of what he wanted to with the Kiwis, particularly after the 2013 Rugby League World Cup, where players were caught mixing energy drinks with sleeping pills, which affected their performances.

Since then, the professionalism of the New Zealand team has lifted considerably and the players often talk about the special environment that there is inside the Kiwis squad.

The Warriors had their own off field issues this year, and it's been spoken about for the past few years that the attitudes of some of the players wasn't where it needed to be.

New Zealand coaching great Graham Lowe said early this season that the Warriors suffered from a 'bro culture' where they weren't accountable for mistakes.

Kearney said as soon as he started his new job, which will be when the Broncos are knocked out of the finals, he'll work on improving the club's culture.

"I'll go into more details once my commitments to the Broncos are finished, but I'm certainly excited about the opportunity," Kearney said.

"Everyone watching the Warriors can see the potential they have and for me, it's about creating the environment to help them realise that.

"It's about creating a culture which demands that. It will be my primary focus to make sure we have a culture that demands a very high expectation."

During his time at the Kiwis, Kearney was a coach the players held in the highest regard, but they also knew they couldn't take any liberties with him, whether that be slacking off at training or turning up late for meetings.

"I have a high expectation of myself and I have a high expectation of the group that I work with, whether it's the Warriors or the Kiwis," he said.

"So I'm confident we can build the right culture and environment to have the players maximising the potential and that's the starting point."

While Kearney is excited about the next chapter of his coaching career, his move is tinged with sadness as his nine years as coach of the Kiwis will come to an end.

"It was a very big decision," he said.

"For me, when I first took on the New Zealand job, watching the Kiwis team in 2007 when they had a tour to the UK, for me, it was about trying to make them better and I feel the team is in a pretty good place at the moment.

"So from that perspective, I was comfortable in the sense that I achieved what I set out to do and make the team as strong as they could possibly be."

All roads point to David Kidwell stepping from being Kiwis assistant coach to taking charge of the national team and it's a move Kearney supports.

"David has been working with myself and the group for the last three years now," Kearney said.

"He started with us at the 2014 Four Nations campaign, so for me David is the logical choice.

"It's not my decision, but I'll be endorsing David, he's got a good rapport with the boys and he understands the culture that we've worked to build."

https://www.stuff.co.nz/sport/leagu...e-stephen-kearneys-first-priority-at-warriors
 
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Stone

1st Grade Fringe
May 19, 2012
1,106
Auckland
Here's what we definitely know about Stephen Kearney

- He has a huge amount of genuine mana (I've actually met Kearney & spoken to him on a few occasions & he is just one of those rare human beings whose presence alone commands immediate respect as soon as he walks into a room)

- He is extremely professional in everything that he does

- He has an extremely strong work ethic & demands the same from his players

- He is an advocate for discipline

- He is meticulous in his approach

- He understands not just the culture at the Warriors & NZ league in general but also the Australian league culture as well

- He has over two decades worth of experience in the game as both a player & a coach at the highest level of the sport

- He's not afraid to make the big calls & hold players accountable (eg: dropping well established players)

- He has a genuine passion for the game, the Warriors & NZ rugby league

- He genuinely cares about his players

- His players, especially the Kiwi boys, love playing for him & hate letting him down

- He collaborates well with others (eg: Wayne Bennett 2008 World Cup)

- He has served a considerable apprenticeship under the two greatest coaches of the modern era in Bellamy & Bennett

Now obviously I'm somewhat biased, but when I look at all those attributes they definitely add up from my perspective to someone who is more than capable of implementing a success driven professional culture here at the Warriors

In saying that, I don't think Kearney will turn the Warriors into world beaters straight from the jump (I don't think even Bellamy or Bennett could do that) but given time I genuinely believe that we could be on to something special here ... time will tell
 
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Duh herro

NSW Cup Player
Jun 21, 2015
76
It will be interesting to see how he goes. Hope he decides that it is a good idea to play people where they are supposed to play. However one of my true hopes is that he gives Toa Sipley and Bunty a good run next year because I honestly think those two are (In terms of the forwards) the future of the club.
 

mt.wellington

Warriors Orange Peeler
Jun 21, 2012
22,249
Mt. Wellington, Auckland
- He is extremely professional in everything that he does
- He is meticulous in his approach
I remember an interview with a former Kiwis team mate of Mooks and said he hated being his room mate. Apparently Mooks would set his alarm for every 3 hours after a game and get up and drink water. His way of making sure he hydrated ASAP. That approach may not be too strange these days but we're talking about the mid 90's when players would hydrate with a lazy 6 pack of beer as soon as they left the field.

Kearneys always been ahead of his time in terms of his prep work. Heres hoping he imparts some of that to the players cause thats exactly the type of culture we want at this club.

Kearney cant do it alone. Large part of it will have to come from the senior leadership group...
 

Stone

1st Grade Fringe
May 19, 2012
1,106
Auckland
I remember an interview with a former Kiwis team mate of Mooks and said he hated being his room mate. Apparently Mooks would set his alarm for every 3 hours after a game and get up and drink water. His way of making sure he hydrated ASAP. That approach may not be too strange these days but we're talking about the mid 90's when players would hydrate with a lazy 6 pack of beer as soon as they left the field.

Kearneys always been ahead of his time in terms of his prep work. Heres hoping he imparts some of that to the players cause thats exactly the type of culture we want at this club.

Kearney cant do it alone. Large part of it will have to come from the senior leadership group...
For sure bro, I remember reading that too & I totally agree with what you're saying about the players as well

I also remember Stacey Jones saying that Mooks was the biggest influence on him in terms of attitude & how a pro footy player should approach preperation

That's why I'm stoked those two are back together side by side in the trenches, just the combined mana alone makes me jizz my undies a little bit lol
 

mrblonde

Warriors 1st Grader
Apr 14, 2012
3,341
Auckland
Some on here have commented about Cappy's approach of saying in press conferences "the forwards were disappointing/Tui had a poor game/(whatever his criticism is)" and saying it's "throwing players under the bus", or words to that affect.

To me, it's only throwing players under the bus if what a coach says in public is at odds with what he said/harsher than what he said to the player or players concerned. A good culture will exist if the messages are consistant - for example:
Tui has a poor game. Mooks fronts him in the dressing room, says "what the actual fuck was that?" At the presser, Mooks says "Tui had a poor game today, he knows it, I know it. Heck, anyone watching the game could see it. It's something we're going to be working on." So A: The public "humiliation" if you like isn't as bad as the private one. B: Mooks has said the coaching staff will work with Tui so that crap game doesn't happen again. Not just leaving it to Tui to get his act back together.

Does anyone have any insight - mt.wellington, et al - as to the public v private messages and any juxtaposition between the two in Cappy's reign or any other coach's reign at The Mount?
 

mt.wellington

Warriors Orange Peeler
Jun 21, 2012
22,249
Mt. Wellington, Auckland
Some on here have commented about Cappy's approach of saying in press conferences "the forwards were disappointing/Tui had a poor game/(whatever his criticism is)" and saying it's "throwing players under the bus", or words to that affect.

To me, it's only throwing players under the bus if what a coach says in public is at odds with what he said/harsher than what he said to the player or players concerned. A good culture will exist if the messages are consistant - for example:
Tui has a poor game. Mooks fronts him in the dressing room, says "what the actual fuck was that?" At the presser, Mooks says "Tui had a poor game today, he knows it, I know it. Heck, anyone watching the game could see it. It's something we're going to be working on." So A: The public "humiliation" if you like isn't as bad as the private one. B: Mooks has said the coaching staff will work with Tui so that crap game doesn't happen again. Not just leaving it to Tui to get his act back together.

Does anyone have any insight - mt.wellington, et al - as to the public v private messages and any juxtaposition between the two in Cappy's reign or any other coach's reign at The Mount?
Cappy was worse privately from what I was told. Could really rip strips off players. Justin Morgan was meant to be a complete nutter during training.

Im not a fan of public dressing downs like that. Reveals more about the coach then it does the players...
 

mrblonde

Warriors 1st Grader
Apr 14, 2012
3,341
Auckland
Cappy was worse privately from what I was told. Could really rip strips off players. Justin Morgan was meant to be a complete nutter during training.

Im not a fan of public dressing downs like that. Reveals more about the coach then it does the players...
Fair enough, but if Cappy doesn't acknowledge what we've all seen, he'll still get it in the neck it seems to me...

Although I guess "the players know they didn't perform and we all know how to fix that" covers it...Mixed in with a mea culpa "I didn't give the players the plan the game really needed" every so often...
 

mt.wellington

Warriors Orange Peeler
Jun 21, 2012
22,249
Mt. Wellington, Auckland
So according to Watson the team need to harden up...

NRL: Warriors are a fragile team - Eric Watson
6:13 PM Wednesday Sep 14, 2016

Warriors captain Ryan Hoffman and his team ended another season outside the playoffs. Photo / photosport.nz

Eric Watson admits the Warriors are a fragile team - and nothing will get better until that changes.

The Warriors' owner also believes the organisation as a whole has suffered from an underlying fragility.

Watson, in New Zealand for a brief visit to coincide with the club's end of season function and a board meeting, pulled no punches with a frank assessment yesterday.

"There is fragility there and it manifests itself under pressure," said Watson.

"Think about golf. You can be a good golfer, with a five or six handicap and suddenly you are at a pro-am playing with Michael Campbell or Tiger Woods. You fall apart because you are under pressure - there are people watching you, there is expectation. "

"We have that in our organization and it comes out at times when we are expected to win," added Watson. "We only had to win a couple of home games (against the Tigers and Eels) to make the eight basically and we couldn't do it. It looked terrible."

Watson referenced tangible improvements in many areas this season, on and off the field, but said questions still remained when the going got tough, evidenced by the team's fluctuating fortunes in 2016.

"It is something that is embedded in our culture psychologically - and it is not a one person fix," said Watson. "It's a group thing and we haven't nailed it. But we have to get rid of it. We have to have consistent performance."

There were hints of a turn around this season, especially during their nine game run in the middle of the season when the Warriors recorded six wins and three golden point losses. There was a harder edge to their play, and an apparent ability, for a few weeks at least, to produce a similar level of performance. But it didn't last and that, more than anything, prompted the need for change in the coaching structure.

According to Watson, those conversations had started at board level earlier this year, as the team got the wobbles in the opening third of the season when they won three of their opening eight games and suffered embarrassing losses to the Tigers, Sea Eagles and Storm.

"During the year we looked at a few scenarios," explained Watson.

"We could be top four or six, make the eight or miss the eight. One of those scenarios was that we may need to change the coach. So throughout the season, you are looking at who's available, who's off contract, who might be the best fit culturally for where we are going. We created a list and Kearney was at the top of that list."

Watson admitted that there had been dialogue with Kearney - and some other contenders - during the year.

"We have been in discussions with him and other people, throughout the season, very, very confidentially," said Watson.

Watson said the decision evolved quickly as the Warriors staggered and stumbled in the final third of the season.

"Even if we had limped into the eight, it would have been the same decision," said Watson. "[For Andrew] it wasn't like if you don't make the eight you haven't got a job. It was `what is the best thing for this organization? You could see several weeks out, if we made it, we were just going to make it. It wasn't good enough. We simply capitulated too many times this season."

https://www.nzherald.co.nz/sport/news/article.cfm?c_id=4&objectid=11709834
 

Stone

1st Grade Fringe
May 19, 2012
1,106
Auckland
Geez you're on the ball mt.wellington mt.wellington

I was literally seconds away from posting that but you beat me to the punch ... delete delete delete lol

That's why you're our MVP my man

All kidding aside, that's a very open & honest assessment right there on the current culture at the Warriors from the big kahuna

I could be mistaken, but that may well be the most brutally honest thing I think I've ever seen Watson say about the club since he took over, great to see IMO
 
Last edited:

snake77

Warriors 1st Grader
Jul 12, 2013
8,233
I remember an interview with a former Kiwis team mate of Mooks and said he hated being his room mate. Apparently Mooks would set his alarm for every 3 hours after a game and get up and drink water. His way of making sure he hydrated ASAP. That approach may not be too strange these days but we're talking about the mid 90's when players would hydrate with a lazy 6 pack of beer as soon as they left the field.
I love hearing things like this. Some of the stories you hear about some sportsmen seem wacky but it also shows commitment and guys that look for the little edge or to recover quicker. I think either Cronk or Slater a few years back getting up every few hours to ice their knee to attempt to recover for a big game. Also read about Matt Sing getting up at midnight to take protein shakes to bulk up.

Some of these things will always seem wacky but it is the type of commitment you want in a team to either recover quickly, or to gain an edge.

The culture thing. A few years ago McFadden was the guy to lift standards on the training field, tell the guys up front where they went wrong, drop players. I'm not sure if in 3 years we can afford to have Coach X culture thread. It's getting to the point where shit needs to improve another 3 years of rebuilding before going through another coach and repeating. It really needs to work this time.

He has done a long apprenticeship under two wildly different personalities but great coaches. He used some tough love with his Kiwis selections.

Lets hope it works this time.
 

snake77

Warriors 1st Grader
Jul 12, 2013
8,233
On the culture. It seems anytime the club has an issue the media contact the experienced coach signing we made a few years ago in Matt Elliott. He seems to be the guy that gets rolled out when something happens at the club. He had a few digs earlier in the year even though his mate was the coach. I heard him a few day saying the players need to look at themselves. Ok that is a fair point seeing as a few of them have been here the whole time and the way our season starts and falls away.

But he's also partly responsible for the mess we are in. He was supposed to come in and fix things after the 2012 disaster. He repeated the same mistakes he has made everywhere else.

Doyle and Watson have said McFadden has improved things around the club, obviously the results on the field don't reflect that or we wouldn't be having a new coach or 340 odd pages of sacking him. But it seems like a good time for a new voice to come in and build from that.

A fresh voice to come in and expect a certain level of expectations from day one is probably needed right now.

I spent some time yesterday watching that video about connecting coaches with Kearney and Bennett. One of the key things from that where Kearney could be the right guy is where he explains he needs or has needed to change throughout his coaching career. The guys might not have the same coach they have over a short tour or tournament for the Kiwis.

He would have also learnt about building a clubs culture from Bellamy and Bennett.
 

wallacenz

Warriors 1st Grader
May 7, 2012
7,261
Heard Mannering on the radio today.

He was asked if the players should train all the way to the grand final, his reply was that it wouldnt make him better, which I agree with, then he also said the players needed that time to recover for the next season.

To me that has a bit of subtext to it, they come in and start the season like they havent played for 6months, build up some steam, then stagger across the finish line, because they cant make it through a full season.
 

bruce

Warriors 1st Grader
Contributor
Sep 1, 2015
14,659
Cappy was worse privately from what I was told. Could really rip strips off players. Justin Morgan was meant to be a complete nutter during training.

Im not a fan of public dressing downs like that. Reveals more about the coach then it does the players...
It shows they don't have control, but Bellamy seems to get away with it.
I spent some time yesterday watching that video about connecting coaches with Kearney and Bennett.
That is a great video. One (of the many) things I got from it was when Benny made some comment about team culture not being different between Oz and NZ. Kearney quietly disagreed , and went into some detail explaining why. I am just guessing but Australians are like the English is thinking only their culture matters, the fit in or f..ck off theory. Kearney has a much better handle on the Polynesian players. Having said that Mark Graham, who used to erupt in the coaches box was also renowned for being non abusive with the players. Mind you he didn't have the roster that this team has.
 
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BeastMode

Warriors 1st Grader
Mar 7, 2015
5,827
So according to Watson the team need to harden up...

NRL: Warriors are a fragile team - Eric Watson
6:13 PM Wednesday Sep 14, 2016

Warriors captain Ryan Hoffman and his team ended another season outside the playoffs. Photo / photosport.nz

Eric Watson admits the Warriors are a fragile team - and nothing will get better until that changes.

The Warriors' owner also believes the organisation as a whole has suffered from an underlying fragility.

Watson, in New Zealand for a brief visit to coincide with the club's end of season function and a board meeting, pulled no punches with a frank assessment yesterday.

"There is fragility there and it manifests itself under pressure," said Watson.

"Think about golf. You can be a good golfer, with a five or six handicap and suddenly you are at a pro-am playing with Michael Campbell or Tiger Woods. You fall apart because you are under pressure - there are people watching you, there is expectation. "

"We have that in our organization and it comes out at times when we are expected to win," added Watson. "We only had to win a couple of home games (against the Tigers and Eels) to make the eight basically and we couldn't do it. It looked terrible."

Watson referenced tangible improvements in many areas this season, on and off the field, but said questions still remained when the going got tough, evidenced by the team's fluctuating fortunes in 2016.

"It is something that is embedded in our culture psychologically - and it is not a one person fix," said Watson. "It's a group thing and we haven't nailed it. But we have to get rid of it. We have to have consistent performance."

There were hints of a turn around this season, especially during their nine game run in the middle of the season when the Warriors recorded six wins and three golden point losses. There was a harder edge to their play, and an apparent ability, for a few weeks at least, to produce a similar level of performance. But it didn't last and that, more than anything, prompted the need for change in the coaching structure.

According to Watson, those conversations had started at board level earlier this year, as the team got the wobbles in the opening third of the season when they won three of their opening eight games and suffered embarrassing losses to the Tigers, Sea Eagles and Storm.

"During the year we looked at a few scenarios," explained Watson.

"We could be top four or six, make the eight or miss the eight. One of those scenarios was that we may need to change the coach. So throughout the season, you are looking at who's available, who's off contract, who might be the best fit culturally for where we are going. We created a list and Kearney was at the top of that list."

Watson admitted that there had been dialogue with Kearney - and some other contenders - during the year.

"We have been in discussions with him and other people, throughout the season, very, very confidentially," said Watson.

Watson said the decision evolved quickly as the Warriors staggered and stumbled in the final third of the season.

"Even if we had limped into the eight, it would have been the same decision," said Watson. "[For Andrew] it wasn't like if you don't make the eight you haven't got a job. It was `what is the best thing for this organization? You could see several weeks out, if we made it, we were just going to make it. It wasn't good enough. We simply capitulated too many times this season."

https://www.nzherald.co.nz/sport/news/article.cfm?c_id=4&objectid=11709834
Yeah, well I didn't need an article or Stephen Kearney or Eric Watson even to tell me that.

We all know they're a bunch of pussies and need to harden up.

What I want to know is HOW are they going to do it?????
 
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BeastMode

Warriors 1st Grader
Mar 7, 2015
5,827
Here's what we definitely know about Stephen Kearney

- He has a huge amount of genuine mana (I've actually met Kearney & spoken to him on a few occasions & he is just one of those rare human beings whose presence alone commands immediate respect as soon as he walks into a room)

- He is extremely professional in everything that he does

- He has an extremely strong work ethic & demands the same from his players

- He is an advocate for discipline

- He is meticulous in his approach

- He understands not just the culture at the Warriors & NZ league in general but also the Australian league culture as well

- He has over two decades worth of experience in the game as both a player & a coach at the highest level of the sport

- He's not afraid to make the big calls & hold players accountable (eg: dropping well established players)

- He has a genuine passion for the game, the Warriors & NZ rugby league

- He genuinely cares about his players

- His players, especially the Kiwi boys, love playing for him & hate letting him down

- He collaborates well with others (eg: Wayne Bennett 2008 World Cup)

- He has served a considerable apprenticeship under the two greatest coaches of the modern era in Bellamy & Bennett

Now obviously I'm somewhat biased, but when I look at all those attributes they definitely add up from my perspective to someone who is more than capable of implementing a success driven professional culture here at the Warriors

In saying that, I don't think Kearney will turn the Warriors into world beaters straight from the jump (I don't think even Bellamy or Bennett could do that) but given time I genuinely believe that we could be on to something special here ... time will tell
No disrespect sir, but I could say the same above about Cappy and Elliot even.

My question is

Does he have a vision?
Does he inspire?
Does he lead?
Does he motivate?
Does he command respect?
Will the troops go to battle for this guy - would they die for their coach?

These are the important questions we need answers to if he intends to change the culture - because I sure as hell know Cappy had none of the above.
 
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