THREE MUSKETEERS: Three Northern Rivers mates, Nathan Brown, Craig Hodges and Cameron George hold the key roles at the NRL's NZ Warriors of head coach, assistant coach and chief executive officer, respectively. Photo: Alison Paterson
THREE MUSKETEERS: Three Northern Rivers mates, Nathan Brown, Craig Hodges and Cameron George hold the key roles at the NRL's NZ Warriors of head coach, assistant coach and chief executive officer, respectively. Photo: Alison Paterson

Northern Rivers players leading NZ Warriors team

What are the odds of three mates from small Northern Rivers towns meeting up in New Zealand and leading the National Rugby League team?

Just ask Warriors head coach Nathan Brown, 47, who hails from Maclean, Craig Hodges, 47, who used to call Lismore home and chief executive officer Cameron George, 44, "born and bred," in Casino.

The trio reckon it's "a dream come true".

At Ballina on Friday morning they watched closely as the Warriors went through their final training session ahead of the match against the Gold Coast Titans in Lismore.

"It's fantastic to have two really good mates you work with," he said.

"It's refreshing to have people from home and there's a real bond, and there's no bullsh*t between us."

Brown said working with people he likes, respects and trusts is simply sensational.

"Craig and I played for the Maclean Magpies together in the U10s," he said.

"We played together until he moved to Lismore and played for Marist Brothers."

Brown said with such a critical match at Oakes Oval in Lismore, having solid back up from other club officials makes all the difference.

"Tomorrow is out first hit out and we feel we have a pretty reasonable first six weeks," he said,

"But until we start playing you don't really know.

"We know it will be a hard match and we are confident."

Hodges said he was thrilled be working with his old friends.

"It's great fun, I am lucky enough to have the opportunity to work with someone who is a lifelong mate," he said.

"We have been best mates since we were six or seven, we grew up together, stayed at each others houses, his dad was a local footy coach and really had a great of influence on me.

"So we can have really good honest conversations."

Hodges said while he was born in Lismore, he spent from ages five to 15 in Maclean and has enormous respect for his former teammate.

"I am as genuinely keen and excited to see him do well as I am for myself.," he said.

"He knows I am not after his job, most people have ulterior motives or their own agenda.

"I've been lucky enough to live my childhood dream of coaching in the NRL"



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