The Warriors have axed NRL coach Stephen Kearney in the wake of their 40-12 loss to South Sydney on Friday.
- Stephen Kearney took over as Warriors coach in 2017 and led them to the finals the next year
- The Warriors have started 2020 with two wins from six games and sit 11th on the ladder
- Assistant coach Todd Payten will take over as interim head coach
Kearney was told the morning after the Rabbitohs game the New Zealand team “needed to make an immediate change”.
“It’s a tough day for all of us, particularly after last night’s performance,” Warriors chief executive Cameron George said.
“Stephen is extremely professional and has put in a huge amount of effort in the role but, along with the owners, we feel we need to make a change now in the best interests of the club.
“We’re so grateful to Stephen for the dedication he has shown to us in what have been difficult circumstances.
“His commitment, work ethic and concern for the wellbeing of the club, players and their families through this challenging year is testament to his character and we wish him and his family all the best for the future.”
Kearney took over as head coach in 2017 and the next year led the team back to the finals for the first time since the 2011 grand final.
The side dropped back to 13th last season and has started 2020 by winning two of its first six games, sitting at 12th on the ladder.
The Warriors earned praise for being willing to leave their families behind and set up camp in Tamworth in north-east New South Wales to allow the NRL season to resume after it shut down due to coronavirus.
After South Sydney ran in seven tries against the Warriors in Parramatta on Friday evening, Kearney said the team was working with the “bare minimum” in putting together game-day teams and training squads.
“We’re lucky to get 13 on 13 when we’re doing our opposed sessions but again, looking around the competition, I think that’s a big part of the competition at the moment,” he said.
“There are a number of injuries popping up, but that wasn’t the issue tonight … That doesn’t make you miss 43 tackles.”
Former Wests Tigers premiership-winning forward Todd Payten will take over as interim head coach, having joined the Warriors’ coaching staff last season.