Andrew Webster wants to build a legacy at the New Zealand Warriors with the help of Shaun Johnson

Home Sports Andrew Webster wants to build a legacy at the New Zealand Warriors with the help of Shaun Johnson
Andrew Webster wants to build a legacy at the New Zealand Warriors with the help of Shaun Johnson

New Zealand Warriors coach Andrew Webster is adamant he won’t slip into the same pitfalls as other assistant coaches, who have exited from victorious organisations and tried to replicate the exact formulas of success at their new clubs only to quickly become unstuck.

“The biggest mistake coaches make is they copy and paste things from where they’ve been,” he told The Daily Telegraph.

Andrew Webster wants to stay at the Warriors for over a decade 

Webster will return to the club where he served as an assistant for two years under Andrew McFadden, after electing to leave the relative sanctuary of Penrith behind and branch out on his own.

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It was a difficult decision to walk away from such an all-conquering side in their prime, who have now collected the past two NRL premierships. But Webster was keen to try and build his own powerhouse across the ditch.

His hunger for success evident in his first video interview with the club when he outlined how he wanted to be a figurehead for the foreseeable future at the Warriors. 

“I want sustained success for the club,” Webster said. “I want to be here for 10, 15 or 20 years. I don’t want this to be a three-year contract.”

With his sights set incredibly high, the 40-year-old has settled into his role and is already laying the foundations for a new team identity during his first pre-season in charge.

“We have things that are non-negotiables,” Webster said.

“We are going to have a team that works hard and will be a skilful attacking side.”

Junior pathway systems integral to success for the Warriors 

It is clear Webster isn’t solely focused on short-term gains, linking future success to the club’s ability to attract the best local juniors and entice them into their youth systems.

“The best way for the Warriors to have success is via the pathways,” he stated, in a philosophy which is reminiscent of Penrith’s approach to cultivating their side.

The Kiwis have struggled to operate such systems of late due to the severe impacts the Covid-pandemic inflicted upon them.

Although now they’re back permanently based in the country – and have an exciting NRL schedule slated for 2023 – they hope to become a much more relevant and attractive proposition once again.

They will embark on a mini tour around New Zealand, playing in Wellington for their opening clash against the Knights, while the Wests Tigers have committed to taking their ‘home’ match with the Warriors to Hamilton.

Shaun Johnson can build his legacy under Webster

After Jason Taylor’s departure, Webster was placed in charge of the Tigers for two matches in 2017 and believes it has held him in good stead for the challenges ahead.  

“It helped me a huge amount in a lot of ways,” he stated.

“As an interim coach, one thing I know now is that you can have an influence, but you can’t change the world in seven days.”

Yet this is what he must gradually aim to do as a head coach – altering the make-up of the NRL side, while also implementing strategies within various other sectors of the club. 

For far too long the Warriors have languished in the doldrums, since their unexpected charge to the grand final 11 years ago, led by the exciting talent of Shaun Johnson.

He was just a fresh-faced playmaker back then and it seemed, with him and a host of other talented juniors on board, success was just around the corner after all three grades made their respective finals in 2011.  

Unfortunately, it didn’t turn out that way for the Warriors as their grand final appearance became just a flash in the pan with years of abject failure following. 

After a messy exit in 2019, Johnson returned home to the club this year with the aim of getting them back to the place where they once were. 

However, things didn’t go according to plan and the No.7 struggled to showcase the type of form which had previously made him a firm fan-favourite. 

Yet Webster is convinced Johnson could prove to be a key figure in their revival, while cementing his legacy as a legend of the club. 

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“I told Shaun if he had the fire and ambition to play at the highest level and to his potential, then I wanted him here,” Webster revealed.

“I couldn’t have made that clearer and he couldn’t have answered stronger.

“I know when he’s happy off the field and connected to his family, that’s when Shaun plays his best football. 

“When he returned home last year he played his best football, so I’m excited about the legacy Shaun can have.”

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