Who will replace Nathan Brown? Ranking the likely candidates for vacant Warriors job

Nathan Brown has coached his last game for the New Zealand Warriors.

The 48-year-old took over the job at the beginning of last season, but has managed to produce just 12 wins from 37 game to date.

The loss to Manly over the weekend, in which Brown admitted he had ‘no excuses’ for after the game, appears to have been the final nail in the coffin.

Warriors legend Stacey Jones to take over as interim coach for the remainder of the year, with club CEO Cameron George admitting the decision on Brown’s future came due to his desire to remain in Australia next year.

“Nathan told us he had made a personal decision that for family reasons he wouldn’t be able to relocate to New Zealand as originally planned for the long term,” he said. 

“We fully appreciate his position and the call he has made. Given those circumstances we agreed we needed to make an immediate change.

“It’s tough for everyone involved but, in the best interests of the club, we felt we had to go in a different direction now.”

It leaves another vacant NRL coaching role up for grabs, with the Bulldogs also looking for a new boss after the exit of Trent Barrett last month. 

Warriors have now burned through seven coaches since their 2011 grand final appearance under Ivan Cleary, and whoever takes the role will have an uphill battle to turn things around. 

Here’s who is in the running to take over the vacant Warriors job. 

1. Kristian Woolf

The early front-runner for the role, Kristian Woolf has long been touted as a great NRL coach – he’s just been waiting for an opportunity.

The 46-year-old has found great success with St Helens, winning two Super League titles and one Challenge Cup during his tenure with the UK powerhouse.

Woolf has also been an integral part in Tonga’s rise on the international stage, coaching the side since 2014 and a part of their amazing win over Australia back in 2019. 

The Daily Telegraph are reporting that Woolf is in the box-seat to take over the role, with his desire to move back to the southern hemisphere and test himself in the NRL a major part of the links between him and the struggling Warriors.

Woolf boats an impressive head coaching record of 77 per-cent, and has previous experience working in the NRL with Newcastle as an assistant and interim coach. 

2. Stacey Jones

If the club wanted a sentimental pick and somebody who would give his all for the Warriors, look no further than Stacey Jones. 

The 46-year-old has taken over as interim coach for the remainder of 2022 following the departure of Brown, and will have plenty of time to impress Warriors officials.

Nobody understands the DNA of the club like Jones. The champion halfback played 261 games for the club between 1995 and 2009, taking them to the grand final in 2002.

Jones has been involved in the coaching aspect of the Warriors since 2013, working in various roles from NYC, Pathways and NSW Cup. 

With 12 games left in the season, Jones will be looking to turn the Warriors around and take some momentum into next year. 

3. Michael Maguire 

Despite still being under contract as a coach of the Wests Tigers, Michael Maguire appears to be headed for the door. 

After a few lean campaigns at Concord, Maguire is expected to depart in the coming weeks and be on the hunt for a new role, with the Tigers winning just three games this year. 

And having coached the Kiwis since 2018, it would certainly be a consideration for the Warriors to try and attract a man with a close relationship with plenty of the club’s big names.

Maguire has coached the likes of Tohu Harris, Dallin Watene-Zelezniak and Shaun Johnson for New Zealand and would likely be able to get the best out of them. 

While he isn’t available right now, the likelihood is Maguire will be very soon and could be a key target for the Warriors, having won a premiership back in 2014 and boasting over 250 games of NRL experience. 

4. Paul Green

After stepping down as QLD Maroons coach after just one series, Paul Green has been on the look-out for a new job and remains in the hunt for the vacant Bulldogs job.

The 49-year-old is a premiership winner, having tasted success with the Cowboys in 2015, as well as taking the club to the 2017 grand final.

Green has over 150 games of experience in the NRL, and while his tenure with the Cowboys didn’t end well, there is still plenty of life in his coaching career. 

Warriors officials may be interested in Green, but it would likely depend on whether or not he is keen to make the move to NZ. 

5. Shane Flanagan

After a well-publicised exit from Cronulla and a lengthy suspension, Shane Flanagan is eligible to return to a head coaching role and has openly expressed his desire to begin the second phase of his career. 

The 56-year-old is a premiership winner, leading the Sharks to their maiden title back in 2016, and his old-school mentality could be exactly what the Warriors need. 

Flanagan has 185 games of NRL experience, but at this stage it would appear unlikely he would relocate to New Zealand and is more likely to land a job at a Sydney-based club. 

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