23 Sep 2016

Will trouble follow Foran to the Warriors?

7:26 pm on 23 September 2016

Opinion - On the field, the Warriors have been dissected mercilessly by the media and fans.

With good reason too, they're a club that has, by its own admission, struggled to achieve consistency in a 21-year existence in the NRL.

But as far as off-the-field issues go, they've got a pretty clean sheet - apart from Konrad Hurrell and the world's worst sex tape 'scandal' (which the public seemed more bemused than outraged by), as well as the strange habit of mixing sleeping pills and energy drinks.

But that could change quite dramatically next season with arguably the Warriors' biggest signing ever. Kieran Foran, coming from playing in Australia, brings a ton of talent, premiership winning experience and an already established halves combination with Shaun Johnston.

Kieran Foran during the New Zealand Kiwis v England match in Dunedin in November 2014.

Kieran Foran during the New Zealand Kiwis v England match in Dunedin in November 2014. Photo: Photosport

So far, so good - he's a guy the club have been chasing for years and, on paper at least, could be the answer to a lot of their problems.

However Foran, who grew up playing his footy just across the motorway in Ellerslie before moving to Australia as a youngster, is also bringing with him a potential media circus.

To say the last year has been rough for the five-eighth is being grossly unfair to the word 'rough', in fact it's hard to know where to start explaining how Foran's career has ended up in the mess that it is.

It was thought he was forced out of the Manly Sea Eagles due to salary cap constraints, where he'd enjoyed great success over seven seasons. There was a very public relationship breakdown which led to his new club, the Parramatta Eels granting him an extended period of leave, there was the reported legal action against a Sydney radio station that ended in a host apologising to him on air, and he was reportedly hospitalised for an overdose of prescription medicine.

Foran's been through a lot lately, but these are all things that can be overcome with the right support and environment.

Obviously coming home to New Zealand is something he feels will help him sort himself out, and the Warriors certainly aren't complaining and will be committed to giving him what he needs. But there was one other aspect of Foran's fall from grace that is probably concerning them a little more than the others.

Sea Eagles' Kieran Foran is tackled by Warriors' Konrad Hurrell. Round 13 NRL Telstra Premiership game, Vodafone Warriors v Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles, Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland, New Zealand. Sunday 9th June 2013.

Kieran Foran is tackled by Warriors' Konrad Hurrell in Auckland, June 2013. Photo: Photosport

Eddie Hayson isn't a name that many New Zealand rugby league fans will be familiar with, at least not yet.

The former Sydney brothel owner is one of Australia's biggest gambling figures, once allegedly placing a $1 million bet on a State of Origin match.

He was at the centre of the 2013 More Joyous racing scandal, that led to his ban from New South Wales racecourses for six months for hindering the investigation that followed. It has been alleged he had ties to Australia's criminal underworld.

He is friends with Foran, and has claimed the friendship helped "save Foran's life".

Liam Foran, a former Warrior and Kieran's brother, is employed by Hayson.

Foran is no stranger to high stakes gambling himself, reportedly losing $75,000 in one binge earlier this year after he stepped down from the Eels.

The Warriors have always sought more coverage from an often dismissive Sydney media, but the Foran/Hayson combo may yet give them publicity they could do without.

In a competition where off-field scandals are rife, they've managed to keep their reputation relatively clean. However, the issue of 'culture' is one that's constantly put forward as a reason for their lack of success.

They've already made one big move in the culture department, by hiring new coach Stephen Kearney.

His relationship with Foran as Kiwis coach probably played a role in getting him over, however you can't help but recall both men's respective abject failures at Parramatta. When it comes to arriving and turning a club around, it's not like either could do any worse than they did at the Eels.

Looking forward a year and they'll be praying headlines are about Foran and the Warriors playing off for a grand final spot, and nothing else.

*Jamie Wall grew up in Wellington and enjoyed a stunningly mediocre rugby career in which the sole highlight was a seat on the bench for his club's premier side. He's enjoyed far more success spouting his viewpoints on the game to anyone who'll care to listen.

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