Warriors CEO Cameron George has outlined the club's vision to "make every Kiwi proud" and declared that he won't be waiting for another end-of-season review to fix any problems preventing the fulfilment of that goal.
George, who recently visited the Brooklyn Nets with new Warriors owner Mark Robinson, said he had been "unshackled" to pursue the club's lofty ambition and told a meeting of players and staff: "Let's prove people wrong".
After ending a seven-year finals drought in 2018, the Warriors endured a disappointing 2019 season to finish 13th and George said everyone in the organisation needed to work harder to ensure the improvement that is expected of the club.
"We are taking a leap of faith in having players or staff members signed here at the club and the return for that commitment from us is that we expect you to do your best," George said. "We will do that so much better when we are shoulder to shoulder and working hard as a group.
"That's a message our staff and players need to understand; if you wear our club colours you are here to do a job for our fans and we are going to do it far better by aiming up and being tough about the challenges ahead – and not trying to take any soft options."
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George addressed the club's players and staff at the start of pre-season training two weeks ago and his expletive-laden speech attracted headlines after being filmed as part of a series the Warriors have been producing for their website, titled "All In".
In an interview with NRL.com, George said he had not intended to swear but his passion for the club took over.
"When your backs are to the wall and people are taking the piss out of you it is tough to take," George said. "I was trying to get these guys to understand that there are a lot of people against us but as a club we can do it together if we work hard and put it all aside and put our fans first."
"We all have seen the daylight"
Describing this year's end-of-season review as "a mess", George said he didn't want to go through the same process in 2020 and called for better communication across the club.
"I'm really clear on not having reviews at the end of the year that are highlighting problems," George said. "I want the club as a whole to be loud on fixing things when they arise rather than sitting on it. Don't wait until you get asked about it in a survey or a one-on-one interview at the end of the year. Speak up and let's fix it."
George replaced Jim Doyle as Warriors CEO two years ago and he said his first end-of-season review was easy after the club made the playoffs for the first time since 2012.
"In my second season we didn't make the finals and the review was a mess," he said. "What I was critical of was why did we wait for that review. There was no need to wait for that review to understand that we could have done things better throughout the year.
"We have got a great opportunity with the new owner, who has heavily invested both commercially and emotionally in the business and we all have seen the daylight with that opportunity so we want to grab it and do well."
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"Inspire a nation"
Asked what Robinson and chairman Rob Croot bring to the Warriors as owners, George said: "Commitment, loyalty, efficient thinking and action, and passion".
"They are two of the most genuine guys who just want to inspire a nation through their role here at the Warriors," George said.
"They want every Kiwi to be proud of our club and everything I see them do is in the best interests of the club that will ultimately be in the best interests of all fans in New Zealand and offshore.
"We have fantastic people here who can do it and there is no-one better than Rob and Mark as our owners to lead us down that pathway.
"They have unshackled me with a licence to go after it and drive it home so all our fans can be inspired – kids and adults – not only in New Zealand but all our followers in Australia."
Tips from a "Kiwi legend"
George and Robinson, whose company Autex Industries has been a long-time supporter of rugby league in New Zealand, have recently returned from a study tour to the United States.
In New York they met with Brooklyn Nets general manager Sean Marks, a Kiwi who has helped turn around the fortunes of the NBA franchise since his appointment in 2016 by laying the groundwork to this year sign superstars Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant.
"Sean is a Kiwi legend and we spent a bit of time with him to get a really good insight into the transformation of a club at that level from where they were to where they are now and in recent times making some of the biggest signings in NBA history," George said.
The Warriors bosses also travelled to Duke University in North Carolina, which is rated among the top five colleges for sport in the United States.
"We went to Duke University to explore the many facets of their sporting programs and got a really good insight into a lot of different areas – and why and how they do things," George said.
"Mark himself has a huge interest in recovery – both technology and methods – and given our travel program it is important we recover as best and as quick as possible. We explored things of all shapes and sizes to make this club better."
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"There will be a time"
However, George knows that none of the innovations the club introduces will make a difference without the total commitment of everyone involved with the club.
It's why he addressed the players and staff at the start of pre-season training to ensure they understand the importance of working hard and for each other.
"There is going to be a time or place during the year, whether you are the membership person or a player or staff, where you are going to be called upon to make a decision that is going to be better for the club," George said.
"Whether that is an extra tackle or an extra run or an extra phone call or an extra hour doing some artwork to get some membership or sponsorship stuff done, there will be a time where we are all going to have to make a decision about whether we want to do it or we don't want to do it.
"What we are trying to instil is that when that time comes, because of our hard work now we are going to do it for our fans and take everything else out of play."