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15 Dec 2017 23:05
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  •   Home > News > Sports > Rugby League

    Not enough depth to wield axe: Kearney

    Warriors boss Stephen Kearney says he'd gladly make changes to his underperforming NRL squad, but doesn't feel he has the squad depth to do so.

    - article from

    Stephen Kearney
    Stephen Kearney

    Stephen Kearney admits several of his Warriors troops are a tad lucky to retain their roles for Sunday's NRL clash with Canberra - but believes wholesale squad changes remain unfeasible.

    Issac Luke has dropped to the bench for this weekend's match in Auckland after a horror showing in the Warriors' 26-10 loss to Newcastle last week.

    Versatile young gun Nathaniel Roache will instead wear the No.9 jumper.

    With the Warriors officially out of NRL finals contention, Kearney now has the opportunity to ditch underperforming players and blood young talent - but has elected not to do so, barring Luke's demotion.

    He told reporters on Wednesday that he'd considered wielding the axe - having lashed out at some players for not trying against the last-placed Knights - but felt better options were few and far between.

    The club's reserve-grade side currently sit third on their ladder, but the Warriors youth squad has struggled throughout 2017 and languish in last place.

    "Yeah, there are a couple lads that are lucky," Kearney said.

    "Again, if I thought there were better options, as I keep saying - I would certainly make those changes.

    "I'm not going to change my view, regardless of the situation that we find ourselves in. I'll make the necessary changes I think will be of benefit."

    Despite Kearney's process-driven approach to his maiden campaign in the Warriors hot seat, the Aucklanders have been typically flaky and currently sit in 12th place, with just seven wins from 20 matches.

    A number of players will depart the club at the end of the campaign, including seasoned first-graders Ryan Hoffman and Kieran Foran, as well as the likely exits of Bodene Thompson, Jacob Lillyman and Charlie Gubb.

    Tohu Harris and Leivaha Pulu will join the club in 2018, with further signings expected in the front row, where Adam Blair and James Graham are linked.

    Kearney said he had the full backing of Warriors chief Jim Doyle to stick to his guns, having declined to publicly set a target at the start of 2017.

    His focus remained on improvement and preparation, rather than outcomes, but admitted something would have to eventually give.

    "In terms of how long it'll take, well, it's a game measured on results and I'll have to make some tough calls if it's starting to take too long," Kearney said.

    "But I understand the position we're in as a football club, and with the (playing) roster. My hands are a little tied."


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