Interim Warriors coach Todd Payten has left NRL viewers gobsmacked after a stunning live TV interview on Monday night.
Payten, who took charge of the Warriors after the sacking of Stephen Kearney earlier in the season, had been expected to take the head coaching job full-time.
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In fact, details have emerged that Fox Sports' NRL 360 program had a pre-recorded interview with him ready to go on Monday night, in which he spoke about his interest in the Warriors role and desire to take the club in a new direction.
However, Payten is said to have rung up the show's producers and asked them to scrap the pre-recorded interview, because he had changed his mind.
#Breaking Todd Payten has revealed the Warriors offered him the head coaching role last Monday... and he turned it down.— SportsTalkNZ (@Sports_Talk_NZ) August 3, 2020
🎥: #NRL360#SportsTalkNZ #NRL #LetsGoneWarriors #LeagueTalk pic.twitter.com/DjsVAL3bBi
Instead, Payten went on the show live, where he proceeded to explain that his heart was set on the vacant North Queensland coaching job, and he had in fact turned down an offer to coach the Warriors.
"There's another opportunity that's on the table. That is the Cowboys," Payten told NRL 360.
"I'm not in any process at the moment, they're just aware of my interest."
Family reasons behind Warriors snub
Payten has been temporarily in charge of the Warriors since Kearney was sacked last month, but says being based in Auckland long-term isn't an option for the 41-year-old and his wife, whose father is battling cancer.
"My wife's father just started chemotherapy," Payten said.
"That was at the forefront of our minds. Obviously with the COVID thing, for her to travel back and forth is very, very difficult.
"That was a big part of it. That's my decision and I've made it.
"It was tough for everyone. The club was shocked and disappointed.
"Moving forward, my focus is on getting the side prepared from week to week."
The Warriors last month knocked back interest from former Manly coach Geoff Toovey and brothers Ben and Shane Walker.
Payten will lead the 12th-placed Warriors in their round-13 battle with Manly on Friday night.
The former Wests Tigers, Raiders and Roosters forward was an assistant at North Queensland before moving to the Warriors.
Former Cowboys coach Paul Green walked away from the role last month, leaving Josh Hannay to take the helm for the remainder of the 2020 season.