The departure of promising young New Zealand Warriors back-rower Eliesa Katoa to join the Melbourne Storm has drawn a stinging criticism of the New Zealand side’s development programs from a former Warriors coach.

The Warriors’ CEO Cameron George announced Katoa’s move on Sunday after granting him permission to talk to other clubs earlier in the season.

George claimed it was “so much competition for spots in the back-row” that forced the 22-year-old to look elsewhere, but former Warriors coach Tony Kemp has told SEN Radio listeners that the claim is a bald-faced lie.

“If you think Eliesa Katoa should be gone because of depth in the back row at the Warriors – who can’t make a break and give up a lot of penalties on these edges – you’ve got rocks in your head,” said Kemp, who coached the Warriors from 2004-05," he said.

“The reason you can’t get this kid to the top of his ability is because your development program doesn’t work.

“You put him in first grade and you expect him to do it all himself.

“Don’t give me ‘there’s too much depth’ – you’re sitting 14th, there isn’t enough depth in your back row.

“You should have kept this kid and developed him like Craig Bellamy’s going to do.”

Kemp went further, telling the Warriors CEO he needs to focus more on development and retention of young stars if the club wants to succeed in the future.

“You need to really have a look at your club development program. You can’t keep bringing kids in.

“Don’t start sending your best kids over to Australia and giving them to Melbourne so they can go win a competition.”

The Warriors are currently in 14th position and on a four-game losing streak. They'll host the Bulldogs in Auckland on Friday night at 8pm local (6pm AEST).