Warriors CEO grilled over player exits, owner at club 'going nowhere'

Source: 1News

Warriors chief executive Cameron George has defended his position at the club after it was announced fullback Reece Walsh would be the latest under-contract star to leave unceremoniously this season.

The Warriors announced on Wednesday Walsh wished to stay in Australia for the 2023 season due to "personal circumstances", a change of heart from earlier this season when the 19-year-old denied reports he wished to leave.

He becomes the latest star to opt out of returning to New Zealand with the Warriors next season, after Matt Lodge and Euan Aitken.

At the same time as news surfaced of Walsh's departure, so too did the signing of former Warriors player Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, who will return to the club five years after departing for the Canberra Raiders.

Reports have surfaced Walsh is on the brink of re-signing for the Brisbane Broncos, the club he left last year to join the Warriors.

In a tense media conference on Wednesday, George was grilled over the latest departure from the club sitting second-bottom of the NRL ladder and facing the potential ignominy of claiming its first-ever wooden spoon.

Reece Walsh of the Warriors reacts at full time during the round 23 NRL match between the Brisbane Broncos and New Zealand Warriors at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.

One question from a reporter highlighted the club's best players not wanting to stay, the perception that the owner has "lost the plot with the club" that was "going nowhere".

"You’re one loss away from the wooden spoon which is going to happen against the Melbourne Storm in a couple of weeks. So is it about time the owner and yourself looked at leaving the club and handing it over to someone who has some direction and has a future for the club other than losing all its very best players and riding a wave of emotion of coming back to Mt Smart – which if you still look at the table means it’s a losing season, again," the question continued.

The Warriors chief said he disagreed, claiming the past two years had been challenging and that the future of the club was "exciting".

"We've got a fantastic roster for next year," George said.

"If you've been through the individuals that are coming to the footy club next year, I think they're a quality team, right across the board."

Warriors CEO Cameron George.

Signings for next season include Manly centre Dylan Walker, Newcastle second rower Mitchell Barnett, Parramatta second rower Marata Niukore and Cronulla half Luke Metcalf, as well as Nicholl-Klokstad.

The reporter questioned why star players wanted out of the Warriors and why it only appeared to be happening at the New Zealand franchise.

"The circumstances that we’re dealing with today are out of anyone’s hands, they’re personal circumstances," George said, before reaffirming his commitment to the club.

"The last couple of years I’ve done my absolute best to hold the club together and I’m very excited about what we’re doing over the next couple of years. We’ve got really good plans and we’re really focused on getting home and executing those. You’ll see a big difference once you see stability back in our club. I’m passionate, committed. I work day and night trying to work out how we can get better. I love the club with all my heart and just want to see it succeed."