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Warriors' recruiting secret weapon

When the Warriors attempt to sign talent from outside of New Zealand they not only have to satisfy the player's financial and on-field needs, but also in some cases convince them to move their family to a country thousands of kilometres from home. 

It's an often overlooked recruitment obstacle the club has to work around every season.

But that is where Carmen Taplin comes in. Officially the club's football operations manager, organising basically everything the club's three teams need from hotels to footy gear, she also has the crucial responsibility of looking after partners and wives of the players.

"That's a real bonus of my role, the work I get to do with wives, partners and families," Taplin says.

"The big one is the relocation for the families who have to move, there is a lot of anxiety around that, and I think the boys are very resilient in that respect. At times the football is the focus, but the partners are the ones that worry about this and that.

"All those things that in the big scheme of things are only little, but they are what the girls worry about, stuff like providing options for removal companies, day cares, schools, areas that a lot of the boys live in that they might feel comfortable moving too.

"I try and create that little bit of family away from family and make that it's a nice environment here.

"If there are ever any issues, if they are not comfortable about anything or if the boys have come to them about anything, they will come to me as a first point of contact and I can reach out in the club wherever it's needed and support them."

As part of her job at the Warriors, Carmen, along with her husband Spencer, also run the Autex House in Auckland – a hub set up to host some of the club's youngest signings and provide them with a home away from home.

It's a role which requires her to be the chief caregiver for any number of young men throughout the season, and early last year the 'mum' role took on a new reality once again for Carmen with the birth of daughter named Ayla-Rayne, her and Spencer's third child.

"It was funny because through the end of 2015 and all of 2016 we had so many of our players with pregnant partners that year, we probably had 10 or 11 babies born, all the girls were saying 'who will be next?' and I then fell pregnant," Taplin says.

"I now have an 18-year-old, a 14-year-old and a 15-month-old, so that helps too because all the partners and wives came to the baby shower, I went to their ones, we go to birthdays, we support each other all the time.

"I am learning from them as well because it had been a while since I had had a baby at home."

Warriors managing director Jim Doyle has had a long association with Carmen, dating back to his days in charge of the New Zealand Rugby League.

Having earlier recommended Carmen for a job at the Sydney Roosters, where she and Spencer ran a development home which housed current Roosters NRL players Latrell Mitchell, Sio Siua Taukeiaho and Joseph Manu, Doyle jumped at the opportunity to have her involved at the Warriors.

She now plays an important role in the day-to-day running at Mount Smart Stadium.

"As soon as we are talking about a player potentially coming here, Carmen will engage with their wives, get them over here to come and have a look around, introduce them to other players' wives," Doyle says.

"She fits the role perfectly, she makes it as simple as possible. She engages with them all the time and gets feedback on how we can do things better from their perspective.

"[It is a] 'happy wife, happy life' sort of thing."


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