Seasons

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Out with the Auckland rugby league and New Zealand rugby league and in comes Sir Robert Mahuta, Tainui, Graham Lowe and Malcolm Boyle. It was a canny move by Lowe and Boyle, putting in only $50,000 of their own money for a quarter share in the club. Several changes were immediately implemented by the trio. Firstly a budgetory razor was put through the club with several long term backroom and coaching staff members let go, and high earning first grade players released. Importantly for the new Maori owners, Tuinui, the club logo was subtlety altered with the tongue being straightened and the name Auckland removed to reflect a move nationalistic support base. The straightened tongue was thought to remove a curse placed on the club. A high profile casualty of the incoming razor gang was Bill Macgowan who was cut by Boyle and Lowe but promptly won the roll of New Zealand football CEO and took foundation baggage and equipment manager Tom Mckeown with him to NZ football with Mckeown taking on the roll of NZ under 23's and later All Whites baggage and equipment manager. Also out the door went first grade coach Frank Endacott and in came kiwis legend Mark Graham who's C.V. wasn't exactly bursting with coaching credentials for the roll. None the less Mark was championed for the roll by former Kiwis coach and coaching legend Graham Lowe. Flying somewhat under the rugby league radar was co-owner Malcolm Boyle, a player in his junior days and a long time fan of the game but lacking in any real administration back ground in the game. 

Mark Grahams tenure as the Auckand Warriors coach got off to rip roaring start with a win over the high flying Sydney Roosters who finished 6th in the 1998 edition of the NRL. The season wasn't to ultimately be a  good one for Graham and the Warriors with a win loss record of 10 wins and 14 losses. Also involved in the coaching ranks was a name that would polarise opinions in 2012. McLennon was the reserves coach but it wasn't Bluey, it was infact his highly regarded father Mike. The clubs only real high profile gain for 1999 was Kiwis test prop Terry "the rock" Hermansson. The Warriors for the first time in it's history officially linked up with Australian clubs to act as a feeder club for it's NRL side. The Wynnum Manly Seagulls and Brisbane Souths were the recipients of Warriors players needing game time on there way back from injury or lacking in first grade form who weren't involved in the NZRL provincial competition. At seasons end whole hearted Australian hooker Jason Death won the year award. Nike again supplied the club with it's uniforms and replica apparel. Notable milestones for some of the players that season were Stacey Jones playing his 100th game for the Warriors and Logan Swann, Tony Tuimavave, Brady Malam and Tony Tatupu all playing their 50th NRL game for the club. By the end of 1999 proceedings had turned sour for Tainui, Boyle and Lowe with the Maori tribe starting to groan under the weight of poor financial dicisions including the tribes purchase of the Warriors with a very favourable concession for lowe and Boyle. Cards were layed on the table, teeth were nashed, fingers pointed but finally the New Zealand rugby league was all but forced to come up with a rescue package which consisted in part of more than $700,000 up front to stave off immediate closure. With the rescue package in place season 2000 was in place but who would be running the club and which of the highly paided first graders would remain? A host of new names were bound for Ericsson Stadium for season 2000, and among them one name will figure prominently, Watson!


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