Newly appointed acting head coach Andrew McFadden sees mindset rather than tactics as the key to getting greater consistency out of the Warriors.
Interim coach Andrew McFadden has promised the maddeningly inconsistent Warriors some tough love after predecessor Matt Elliott made one of the earliest season exits in NRL history.
Elliott departed the Auckland-based club on Monday, just five matches into his second season at the helm, with Warriors management saying he resigned after meeting with chairman Bill Wavish.
That meeting followed a devastating 37-6 home defeat by previously winless Cronulla on Saturday that left the Warriors with a 2-3 record.
McFadden, who was one of Elliott’s assistants, has been given the top job for the rest of the season and says addressing the team’s inconsistent performances – two weeks ago they beat high-flying Wests Tigers 42-18 – is top of his to-do list.
He says that means setting high standards and making players know there will be selection consequences if they don’t reach them.
“I think they want a tough environment,” said 36-year-old McFadden.
“This team has always had lots of potential and talent, but ultimately we need tough players coming through and I need to create the environment that allows them to be that.”
McFadden ruled out the need for any major changes to the game plan.
“Our best performances are good and they’re highly competitive,” he said.
“Our worst performances aren’t, so that’s more a mindset thing than a tactical one.”
As a halfback, McFadden made a total of 100 NRL appearances for Canberra, Parramatta and Melbourne before injury forced him to hang up his boots 10 years ago.
He played under Elliott at Canberra and was later a coaching assistant there and also with Les Catalans in Europe’s Super League.
McFadden said he was shocked when told of Elliott’s exit and had no inkling of it beforehand.
Rugby League statistician David Middleton listed only Ivan Henjak (sacked by Brisbane in the 2011 pre-season), Craig Coleman (axed by Souths after a 2003 trial loss) and Murray Hurst (dumped by North Queensland after three rounds in 2002) as NRL coaches sacked earlier in a year.
“This situation is not ideal,” said McFadden. “But it’s an opportunity that has been given to me and I have confidence in my own ability to do the job.”
Elliott took over the Warriors at the beginning of last season, adding McFadden to his staff, and the club finished 2013 with an 11-13 record to miss the playoffs.
Their results included a club-record 62-6 defeat to Penrith, but they followed that up with a five-match winning run.
Warriors chief executive Wayne Scurrah declined to comment about whether the club’s owners – rich businessmen Eric Watson and Owen Glenn – had a hand in Elliott’s departure.
“All I tell you is the facts,” he said.
“Matt has resigned. He wants what’s best for the club.”
Scurrah said Elliott was disappointed, not only that he was no longer coach, but also more in terms of results on the field.
“We’ve set some lofty goals,” he said.
“We’re putting millions of dollars more than we were into the club even two years ago and we’re setting ourselves high expectations.”