TODAY |

Vision over money: Eric Watson chooses the future of NZ grassroots rugby league over a reported $4 million bonus

It’s the beginning of a new era at Mount Smart.

There won’t be much change to the team itself, but the pathways for young Kiwi talent getting there is in for a makeover. Source: 1 NEWS

The Carlaw Heritage Trust partnering with Autex Industries, who've had long running association with rugby league spanning back to the 80's.

The group ended Eric Watson's 17 years of ownership at the club, with 1 NEWS understanding the new owners paid $18 million - significantly less than the $22 million offered by Hawaiian politician Richard Fale.

However the duo’s long-term vision proved the difference for Watson as he chose to keep the ownership local.

Another area the Warriors will look to keep local from here out will be talent with CHT chairman Cameron McGregor insisting there will be a fundamental change to ensure Kiwi talent stays in NZ.

"It is no secret that New Zealand loses up to 800 talented young players every year to Australia and the UK - 500 from Auckland alone," McGregor said.

"In purchasing the Vodafone Warriors, we have a vision. It starts with a child playing league at the age of six and following a clear path to a professional future without having to leave behind family and friends.

"Our association with Auckland Rugby League ... will bring a clearly defined and integrated pathway to professionalism for local players.

"At the moment, New Zealand is a free-for-all for every professional team in the world."

The ARL has been the governing body and administrator of rugby league across the Auckland region since 1909, and were the owners of the Warriors for their first three seasons, having joined what was then the Winfield Cup in 1995.

They will have a 67 per cent shareholding of the Warriors with the remainder held by Autex Industries.

The new ownership group have plans to use the acquisition to bolster grass roots football where Autex is already playing a role as a major sponsor for the Point Chevalier Pirates in the Fox Memorial Competition.

But the first task will be to introduce a new Warriors board which could come as early as two weeks.