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Former Warriors coach Todd Payten says he'll be 'forever in debt' to Kiwi NRL club

Todd Payten will coach against his former NRL club for the first time when North Queensland take on the Warriors on the Central Coast.

Vodafone Warriors interim head coach, Todd Payten. Source: Photosport

Payten was tasked with resurrecting the Warriors season in 2020 following Stephen Kearney's sacking in June in what was a tumultuous year for the Auckland-based club..

The New Zealand left their families across the Tasman, committing to an NRL season in Australia under a COVID bubble, tucked away on the Central Coast.

While Payten's focus is on a fourth consecutive win for the Cowboys, he admits the trip south is one that he welcomes.

"I'm looking forward to seeing a lot of people there at the club," he said.

"I made some pretty good friends in our time down at Terrigal as well, so I'm really looking forward to getting back to the area.

"That group is the reason why I'm here and I'm going to be forever in debt to them."

A successful turnaround in the Warriors' fortunes and 10th-place finish in 2020 rewarded Payten with an offer to turn his interim-role into the fulltime coaching gig.

However, the 42 year-old accepted the head position in North Queensland and has turned the Cowboys into a team firing on all cylinders in recent weeks.

The coach says part of his new success stems from imparting wisdom developed during his time at the Warriors.

"I got a lot of lessons out of last year as a coach and what's important for a group," Payten said.

"To try to shift the way that we play our footy here, I think they (the Warriors) play a really good brand of footy, it's tough through the middle, they offload the ball, they're skilful and they back themselves.

"But, you know, some other things around enjoyment, making sure that we don't take what we do for granted - that's what we're trying to impart on our guys here.

The Warriors will look to bounce back following a 42-20 drubbing at the hands of Melbourne on Anzac Day and Payten is unsure what to expect.

"They've (the Warriors) got some really good athletes, some really smart footballers that will test you beyond their shapes, so we're going to have to defend well," Payten said.

"It's always a tough trip down to Melbourne, it's always their Anzac game, and they'll be disappointed with the way they performed, so yeah they'll bounce back."