Doyle: Sign­ing of Fo­ran was right

Herald on Sunday - - SPORT - By Michael Burgess

Out­go­ing War­riors CEO Jim Doyle has no re­grets about the Kieran Fo­ran pur­suit, even though that may cloud his legacy at the club.

It was an­nounced ear­lier this week that Doyle would be mov­ing into an ex­ec­u­tive chair­man role, end­ing three years in charge of the Auck­land club.

Doyle was never go­ing to be a long-term boss and will be suited to the strate­gic as­pects of the new role, but there is no doubt his ten­ure hasn’t ended as ex­pected.

How­ever, de­spite the on-field re­sults of the past three years, Doyle had some sig­nif­i­cant achieve­ments off it. Ar­guably his most im­por­tant was se­cur­ing the club’s fu­ture at Mt Smart for the next decade (and beyond if a new down­town sta­dium doesn’t even­tu­ate).

It’s a sit­u­a­tion that is taken for granted now, but it was mas­sive. Re­gional Fa­cil­i­ties Auck­land had been stead­fast in their de­sire to move the War­riors to ei­ther Al­bany or Eden Park, and the ma­jor­ity of the Auck­land coun­cil was ei­ther sup­port­ive or am­biva­lent. A move looked in­evitable, not helped by some du­bi­ous cost es­ti­mates thrown around by the RFA.

Only Doyle’s tire­less lob­by­ing be­hind the scenes and his clever public po­si­tion­ing turned the mood of the de­ci­sion mak­ers, oth­er­wise the War­riors would be fac­ing an even bleaker fu­ture; the prospect of be­ing based at QBE Sta­dium or Eden Park from 2019 on­wards, which would have alien­ated their fan base and made the prospect of an on-field turn­around even more re­mote.

He also en­gi­neered the sign­ing of Roger Tuiv­asa-Sheck — a re­cruit­ment coup in re­cent War­riors his­tory — and made money on the deal as Wi­gan paid back a por­tion of their trans­fer fee to re­gain Sam Tomkins. Doyle also helped to get Tohu Har­ris away from the Storm, no mean feat. And mem­ber­ship num­bers have in­creased sig­nif­i­cantly un­der his watch.

But Fo­ran was prob­a­bly his big­gest gam­ble, con­sid­er­ing the mas­sive amount of time, en­ergy and fo­cus that was put into the Ki­wis play­maker, both to get him to Auck­land and back on the field. Doyle put hun­dreds of hours into it, as did coach Stephen Kear­ney and other se­nior man­age­ment.

We’ll never know the op­por­tu­nity cost of those ef­forts, but the club seemed to take their eye off the ball in other ar­eas (par­tic­u­larly re­cruit­ment of for­wards) and the spe­cial treat­ment af­forded Fo­ran (in­clud­ing ex­tra time in Aus­tralia af­ter away matches) wasn’t ideal.

“I don’t re­gret the Kieran de­ci­sion,”

It cer­tainly didn’t work out how we had an­tic­i­pated but I don’t re­gret it. Jim Doyle

Doyle told the Her­ald on Sun­day. “It cer­tainly didn’t work out how we had an­tic­i­pated but I don’t re­gret it. If we were sit­ting here right now, hav­ing not made the top eight and we’d had the chance to sign Kieran Fo­ran and de­cided not to, peo­ple would have ques­tioned that. Hind­sight is a won­der­ful thing but ev­ery­one who is truth­ful and hon­est would have made the same de­ci­sion.”

Doyle also de­fended the per­for­mances of Fo­ran in 2017.

“He got him­self right and he was re­ally good in his first few games,” said Doyle. “Then he was be­ing blasted by the me­dia ev­ery day about where he was go­ing to go next year and that af­fected him for a while. But once he made his de­ci­sion, he got back on track but he has been re­ally un­lucky with in­juries.”

Greg Bowker

Jim Doyle was in­stru­men­tal in keep­ing War­riors at Mt Smart.

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