World Cup-winning Kiwi captain and current Kiwi assistant coach Nathan Cayless has been signed on a two-year deal as Vodafone Warriors Intrust Super Premiership coach charged with the key responsibility of preparing players for the NRL.
Vodafone Warriors general manager football Brian Smith today hailed the signing as one of the club’s most important in the mission to build on the Vodafone Warriors’ return to NRL finals football for the first time this season.
“Bringing Nathan to the Vodafone Warriors is critical to us in terms of adding even more quality to our overall coaching staff,” he said.
“Key to his role is transitioning our players from the ISP to the NRL and ensuring they’re much better prepared for it.
“Nathan is ideally equipped to help us really lift in this area through the past experience he has as a player and captain for both the Kiwis and Parramatta and now through his coaching background. He understands better than anyone what is needed.”
Smith and Cayless have a long relationship from their Parramatta days when Smith coached the Eels from 1997-2006. He handed Cayless his first-grade debut in his first season in the job and also made him the Eels’ long-term captain in a one-club NRL career which would end in 2010 after 259 appearances, 217 of them as skipper.
After making his Kiwi debut in 1998, Cayless’ 38th and last Test was the 2008 Rugby League World Cup final when led the Kiwis to their historic win over Australia.
Vodafone Warriors head coach Stephen Kearney as well as assistant coaches Stacey Jones and Tony Iro also have ties with Cayless through their Kiwi playing careers (and as Kiwi coach and captain for Kearney and Cayless in 2008).
Like all three of his former New Zealand team-mates, Cayless has been developing his coaching credentials in recent years.
He has coached Parramatta’s SG Ball side and also been assistant coach of the Eels’ National Youth Competition side before stepping into the coach’s job with the Wentworthville Magpies in the Intrust Super Premiership midway through the 2016 season. He continued in the role again last season and this year.
Cayless coached the Junior Kiwis against the Junior Kangaroos and joined new Kiwi coach Michael Maguire as an assistant for this year’s one-off Test against England in Denver in June. He will again work with Maguire for the October 13 Test against the Kangaroos at Mount Smart Stadium.