After being confirmed as one of four clubs in the new NRL Holden Women’s Premiership on Tuesday, the Warriors have appointed highly decorated former Kiwi Ferns captain Luisa Avaiki as their head coach.
In an illustrious international playing career spanning from 1995-2009, Aviaki captained the Kiwi Ferns to victory in each of the first three women’s World Cup tournaments in 2000, 2003 and 2008.
A Richmond Rovers club stalwart, she has gone on to fashion a impressive record in all areas of the game since ending her playing career.
As well as coaching women’s, men’s and boys’ teams at club and representative level, she worked for the Melbourne Storm as a game development officer.
Aviaki has also been the New Zealand Rugby League’s well-being and women’s development manager since 2016.
“We’re absolutely thrilled to have Luisa as the inaugural head coach of our NRL women’s premiership side,” said Warriors general manager football Brian Smith.
“It was a huge day being named as one of the four foundation clubs on Tuesday and it’s even more exciting to be able to announce Luisa’s appointment. We were keen to move on this quickly as we seek to build our team.
“The new competition is taking the club and the women’s game into a completely new era which we are so proud to be a part of.”
Avaiki, who has also represented Samoa in rugby league, rugby union and touch, said she was humbled when given the opportunity to become the club’s first NRL women’s coach – and, it’s believed, the first woman to have a coaching position with an NRL club.
“Women’s rugby league has a long history in New Zealand but the introduction of this competition has taken our game to a whole new level,” she said.
“It’s a huge honour having the chance to take up this role.”
Warriors CEO Cameron George, head coach Stephen Kearney, Smith and Avaiki have already met with prospective players at Mount Smart Stadium in Auckland.
“For us, our women’s team will be just like our other three sides in the NRL, the Intrust Super Premiership and the Jersey Flegg Cup,” said George.
“They will strive to attain the same values we have for the club’s other teams.
“We are all about winning, about having a crack every time we play and making our members and fans proud.”