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Vodafone Warriors CEO Cameron George has today announced coaching changes focused on significantly improving the club’s development of young players for the NRL.

He said the moves followed the end-of-season review which had highlighted the need to better prepare players for first grade as they progressed through the Vodafone Warriors’ Intrust Super Premiership and under-20 teams.

“A stronger focus on the development of our younger players is critical to the success of our NRL side,” said Vodafone Warriors CEO Cameron George.

“While we’ve made some ground it’s clear players coming through our system aren’t well enough equipped to make the jump to the NRL. We need to be a lot better.”

Current recruitment and development Tony Iro, who has extensive coaching experience at international, NRL and NYC levels, will take over as head coach of the club’s ISP side in 2018 while this season’s ISP coach Ricky Henry and his assistant Jerome Ropati will team up with the under-20 side in the new-look New South Wales competition (replacing the NYC).

“Tony has been relieved of his recruitment duties to focus on his ISP role as well as our development requirements while he’ll also be involved with the NRL side,” he said.

“He has a level of coaching experience and expertise which will be of huge benefit to our ISP players. As a long-time international and NRL player he has a real understanding of what it takes to make it in first grade.

“Ricky and Jerome did a fantastic job together with the ISP team this year and they can use that to significantly lift our standards in our under-20 team.

“These moves now give us a really extensive coaching structure right through our three teams.”

George added he expected to confirm two other key appointments soon for a general manager – football and a head of recruitment.

“These are critical roles and we need to ensure we find the most suitable candidates to suit our requirements and meet our values,” he said.

Iro has had a long association with the Vodafone Warriors.

After first joining the club in 2005, he was the foundation NYC coach in 2008 and 2009 before becoming Ivan Cleary’s assistant coach when he was involved in helping the club to its second NRL grand final appearance in 2011.

Iro was also assistant coach in 2012 and took over as acting head coach for the last two games of that campaign before having a stint as high performance general manager with the New Zealand Rugby League. He returned to the Vodafone Warriors as an assistant coach in 2015 followed by a move into recruitment and development.

Henry, who was one of Stacey Jones’ assistant coaches for the 2016 ISP campaign, also has a lengthy history with the Vodafone Warriors stretching back to development roles he held from 2008-2012. He coached the now-defunct Auckland Vulcans in the New South Wales Cup in 2012 before having a term as a Vodafone Warriors NRL assistant coach in 2013-2014. 

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