Warriors owners open war chest for future
Warriors owners Eric Watson and Owen Glenn ONZM, announced they expect to invest "whatever it takes" over the next five years in initiatives designed to take the club and rugby league to "levels never seen before.by NRL
Warriors owners Eric Watson and Owen Glenn ONZM, announced they expect to invest "whatever it takes" over the next five years in initiatives designed to take the club and rugby league to "levels never seen before."
Watson and Glenn were locked in strategy talks in Auckland last weekend with board members, management and coaching staff mapping out the club's future.
When the owners announced their 50-50 joint venture on the eve of the 2012 NRL season in March they pledged to not only invest a multi-million dollar sum into rugby league but also voiced their goal to make the Vodafone Warriors the most successful club in the NRL.
Today Watson reiterated that but added they didn't want to stop there.
"We want this club to become the best single sporting franchise in Australasia, taking it to levels never seen before in this part of the world," he said.
Following the weekend's board meeting, chairman Bill Wavish said they have reached agreement on a number of key decisions.
"These initiatives we are announcing today will pave the way for an era of unprecedented growth in the club's on-field success, profile and community presence," he said.
* The formation of a Warriors Charitable Trust
* A commitment to form a Warriors Elite Academy
* The upgrading of training, sports science, medical, talent identification, IT and other team support facilities
* Improved membership offers to fans outside Auckland and in Australia
* A Vodafone Warriors Championship for Auckland secondary schools First XIIIs and significant involvement in grass roots rugby league
* Increased Vodafone Warriors merchandise range and the establishment of the club's first Warriors Shop.
Watson says the potential to grow the club at all levels through the initiatives was unlimited.
"This is a conscious effort to significantly raise the bar for the Vodafone Warriors as a club and as a brand," he said.
"The Warriors Elite Academy, the Warriors Charitable Trust, the facilities and training upgrades and the other initiatives have allowed Owen and me to give tangible support to the Vodafone Warriors."
Glenn added: "These decisions highlight the confidence of the shareholders, board and management that we are on the right track in developing New Zealand and Pacific talent with the best facilities without significantly resorting to recruiting in Australia."
Wavish believes the planned Warriors Elite Academy would create unmatched education and personal development opportunities for younger players including those involved in the Vodafone Junior Warriors' NYC squad.
"We've seen our juniors win the NYC premiership for the past two seasons and they're leading the competition again right now," he said.
"We've made a difference for young players coming into this sporting organisation but we can do so much better. With an elite academy, we can take this to another level in the area of formal education as well as the practical development of these young players in a football sense."
The formation of a Warriors Charitable Trust would lead to an increase in the Vodafone Warriors' profile, presence and participation in the community.
"We have a responsibility to the community and while we are doing great work in this area we are committed to increasing our charitable work and community-based activities," said Wavish.
Wavish stated categorically that the club's single most important goal would always be straightforward ? to win the NRL premiership. To do this he said it was paramount the Vodafone Warriors' football staff and players were given all the tools needed to help them to achieve the ultimate.
"Our commitment is to invest in this area so our club leads the way," he said.
"It's about setting the highest possible standards and ensuring our players have all they need to perform to optimal levels."
Another key target area was membership. While this had grown substantially, CEO Wayne Scurrah believes the weekend's think-tank had established there was scope for exceptional improvement.
"We've just seen the results of a survey done in Australia which has established we're among the most popular teams in the NRL," he said.
"We continue to see exceptional levels of support for our club when we play away games. In fact the crowds for the games against Gold Coast and Brisbane were almost like home crowds. We also know there's a huge groundswell of support for us in New Zealand outside Auckland."
Scurrah said there was enormous potential to tap into this through plans for improved membership offers. Tied into this was the Vodafone Warriors' impressive growth in the merchandise arena, where it now ranked as the NRL's top performer.
"Through our apparel partner Canterbury of New Zealand we have made fantastic progress in this area but we are now going to step it up even more by increasing our merchandise range across the board and opening our own Warriors Shop," said Scurrah.
Scurrah said the development of grass roots relationships in rugby league was another priority.
"We're committed to maximising this in a range of ways, including creating a Vodafone Warriors Championship for Auckland secondary schools First XIIIs," he said.
"We have a strong partnership with the Auckland Rugby League and we've been working with them in several areas. With support from the owners and the board we're committed to making changes that would raise the bar for all players connected with the club, whether it is in the NRL, the NYC or with the Vulcans in the New South Wales Cup."
Watson believed the club's future was more exciting than ever.
"I've been involved for over a decade now but with Owen as a shareholder and new board members there is energy and drive to bring this to fruition," he said.
"Everyone involved in the Vodafone Warriors and in rugby league should be more excited about the future than ever. We definitely are."
Watson and Glenn arrived in New Zealand from Europe for last weekend's lockdown and will both be at the Vodafone Warriors' 20th-round NRL match against Newcastle at Mount Smart Stadium on Saturday night.
Follow rleague.com on Facebook
View profile pages including statistics, results, news, photos and more on all of the following...