Trio to continue with Vodafone Warriors next season
Tony Iro, John Ackland and Craig Walker will continue in their key roles working with new Vodafone Warriors head coach Brian McClennan next season.
Chief executive Wayne Scurrah today confirmed Iro would remain as assistant NRL coach, Ackland as Vodafone Junior Warriors coach and Walker as high performance manager.
“We’re delighted they’ll be with us again,” he said.
“They have been critical contributors to the club’s growth and success over the last few years and they’ll all continue to have a vital role with us as we enter a new era with Brian McClennan as our new head coach next season.
“Tony, John and Brian all know each other well and have worked extensively together in the past while in Craig we have one of the best in his field in the NRL. He has made a huge difference in the conditioning, preparation and recovery of our players. It’s an area where we have made significant progress each year.
“The focus right now for Tony, John and Craig is what’s ahead of them as we look towards this season’s finals but it’s important for our forward planning to have these positions confirmed now for 2012.”
McClennan said he was thrilled to have the trio on board.
“They’re all quality men who are doing a fantastic job for the club,” he said.
“I’ve had a lot to do with Tony and John over the years and we’re all on the same wavelength. They’re both coaches with a great feel for the game and they really understand and relate to players.
“Everyone can see the results of the job Craig is doing. He and his team have the players in terrific shape heading towards the finals. I’m really looking forward to working with him.”
Iro is in his second season as NRL assistant coach after guiding the Vodafone Junior Warriors in 2008 and 2009. He took the juniors within seconds of the 2008 NYC grand final while they made the playoffs again in 2009. In his two years working with the NRL team, the Vodafone Warriors placed fifth at the end of the regular season last year and are again in the finals this year, currently running fourth with two rounds to play. Iro has previously worked as McClennan’s assistant coach with the Kiwis and is now in his third year in the same role with current Kiwi coach Stephen Kearney.
“While my interest at the moment is on this season and the job we have in front of us it’s good to have the future sorted out,” said Iro.
“I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve done at the Vodafone Warriors and it’ll be great working with Bluey again.”
Ackland, one of the country’s most experienced coaches, was current head coach Ivan Cleary’s assistant for four seasons (2006-2009) and swapped roles with Iro to become Vodafone Junior Warriors coach last year when he guided the side to the NYC premiership for the first time. The side is now within reach of another first – winning the NYC’s minor premiership; with two rounds to go, the Vodafone Junior Warriors lead the table by three points from North Queensland.
“Bluey is a true rugby league man who always has the game interests at heart,” said Ackland.
“Our families and our association go a long way back. It’ll be good to work with him again.”
Walker’s career as a strength and conditioning specialist stretches back to the 1990s. He joined the Vodafone Warriors in late 2005 after a 12-year association with the Sydney Roosters. He has also worked with the New South Wales State of Origin side on numerous occasions. During Walker’s six seasons with the club so far, the Vodafone Warriors have now reached the NRL finals four times (2007, 2008, 2010 and 2011).
McClennan officially joins the Vodafone Warriors next month.