New Warriors consultant Phil Gould wants to arrest the player drain that sees the best Kiwi talent traveling to Australia to play in the NRL, saying he hopes New Zealand “kids want to grow up and be a Warrior”.
Gould said the Warriors, who he said have “a very special place in the sporting landscape over in New Zealand”, were in the perfect position to continually develop their own marquee players.
“There’s obviously a lot of great football talent over there in New Zealand. Quite clearly rugby is the major sport over there, but the Warriors have a very special place in the sporting landscape over in New Zealand.
“The one thing I got from [owners] Mark [Robinson] and Rob [Croot] is they’re in for a long haul. This is not a short-term thing.
“They want the people of New Zealand to be very proud of the Warriors and what the Warriors represent. They’ll represent just more than a football team as the years go by.”
Gould was excited to bring the principles that made his rebuild of the Panthers and development of the Panthers Academy so successful in his five years as that club’s football general manager.
“Our programme at Panthers was to develop from within,” he said.
“It’s exciting to see whether we can adapt those sort of philosophies to the New Zealand situation and their own development programmes.
“Hopefully we’re developing a lot of Warriors players for the future and hopefully the perspective of the Warriors within New Zealand is so strong that kids want to grow up and be a Warrior, they want to play for the Warriors, they want to be in this program and they know it’s a great programme.”
The Warriors would focus on getting the best Kiwi talent, Gould said.
“We want them to have a dream of playing for the Warriors. A lot of kids leave New Zealand to come to Australia. A lot of families come here for opportunity and we want to make sure the Warriors are getting the best of the best - making sure they’re scouring all areas of the New Zealand landscape to have a relationship with those regions and a relationship with those players.”
Gould said he had also discussed further investment in NZRL and NZ pathways with NRL commission chair Peter V’landys.
“NZ Rugby League I would see as the development arm in NZ. At different times NZRL has been placed financially and been able to do a lot more than it’s currently doing at present.
“We’d had the Auckland Rugby League and people from NZ Rugby League visit the Panthers Academy, come across and have a look at it and were all very impressed with what they saw.
“I guess it jogs their thought process and what they should like going into the future.
“Financially are the things they (NZRL) need to work on - what they can afford. And that’s where I’ve been talking to Peter V’landys about investing, or the Australian Rugby League investing, in pathways in New Zealand,” Gould said.