Brian McClennan
Warriors coach in 2012

Expect Brian McClennan to become the New Zealand Warriors coach but within a structure that could incorporate fellow contenders Tony Iro and John Ackland.

While most pundits and analyses have centred on a choice between either Iro or McClennan, a picture is beginning to form of the trio working together – and McClennan may be the man to take the club to a new level. Iro is still a strong contender but some feel he may still be a bit raw as a head NRL coach.

Instead, some of the clever money is shifting to a McClennan-Iro-Ackland axis. Both Iro and Ackland get on well with McClennan.

The McClennan and Ackland families are friendly, sometimes spending time together over Christmas, while McClennan rated Iro enough to bring him into the Kiwis management structure in 2006 and 2007.

It seems likely the Warriors will not rush the new appointment. There have been reports Cleary is likely to leave the club in the next few weeks – but the Herald on Sunday understands that scenario is highly unlikely.

Part of the reason is that it is emerging Cleary may not have actively desired to go to Penrith – and he has the energetic support of the Warriors players. But when the club failed to table a counter-offer after Penrith and Phil Gould came calling, Cleary may have felt there was only one direction he could go.

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