Todd Payton has been revealed as the upcoming North Queensland Cowboys coach with the club officially announcing that it has signed a three-year contract from 2021 onwards on Friday.
Payten will become the tenth coach in club history after Josh Hanay took over from Paul Green, the club’s longest-serving coach who became prime minister as interim coach in July.
The 41-year-old surpassed Hannae, former Titans coach John Cartwright and England coach Sean Wayne to the position after spending four seasons at the Cowboys from 2015.
Payten was an assistant to Green during his first Premier League win and oversaw the club’s U-20 program which featured players like Kalyn Ponga, Viliame Kikau and Brandon Smith.
He joined the Warriors as assistant coach to Stephen Kearney before the 2019 season and became temporary when Kearney was sacked earlier this year.
The 41-year-old captained the Warriors through gritty but disrupted conditions this season with the team’s move to Australia in May.
Payten, who turned down an offer to lead the Warriors next season citing family reasons last month, said he was honored to have the Cowboys party.
“I am excited about the opportunity that awaits me and my family. Coming back to this club, the city and the region is something that makes us very happy,” he said.
“I see a great deal of upside within the Cowboys and it is my job to see this translate into results on the ground.
“Developing players within the club to be good soccer players and good men along with the football style that our members and fans can be proud of will be my primary focus.”
As a player, he appeared in 259 NRL Games for Raiders, Roosters, and Wests Tigers, and won the Premier League title in 2005 with the Tigers.
He coached the Wests Tigers for a major final win at the 2012 National Youth Championship and another appearance in the 2013 Finals before advancing to the role of assistant coach with the Tigers NRL in 2014, then transferring to the Cowboys the following season.
“We went through a comprehensive process and were pleased with the large number of exceptional candidates who have expressed interest,” said Louis Ramsay, Chairman of Cowboys.
“We are excited to be returning Todd to North Queensland and believe he is the right choice to lead our club into an exciting new season.
“His strong leadership capabilities, the importance he attaches to culture and communication, and the confidence he enjoys in continuing to develop our group were all key factors in choosing Todd as our next coach.”
Cowboys Payten CEO Geoff Ripple described him as “one of the best young coaches in the National Football League”.
“Todd served his apprenticeship over many years, first in West Tiger, here in North Queensland, and finally at Warriors,” said Ripple.
“He also understands here at Cowboys that we are more than just a rugby league club, he appreciates that we are a community focused club that brings all of North Queensland together.”
The Warriors released a statement on Friday saying Payten would remain focused on his ninth-placed team for the remainder of the season as he directs a late attack to reach the finals.
“Todd and I have spoken and nothing has changed,” said Cameron George, CEO of Warriors.
“He’s doing a great job with our team and we’re proud of what he, the players and the staff have achieved. I know Todd is committed and focused more than ever in fulfilling his role with us.”
“As a club, we are excited that it has secured its future and is able to bring its family back to Australia, but all that matters now is to make sure that Vodafone Warriors are well prepared to take on the Eels this weekend.”