David Kidwell’s future as Kiwis coach appears to be under a cloud after the NZRL announced it will throw the job open to all candidates, not just New Zealanders.
However, the New Zealand governing body believes the move “should not be read in any way as a comment on the World Cup coach’s past performance, nor on his possible re-appointment in the role”.
In the wake of the Kiwis’ underwhelming performance at last year’s World Cup in which they lost to Tonga in the group stages and were eliminated in the quarter-finals by Fiji, the NZRL announced on Monday the head coaching role would be open to applications.
“The Kiwis Coach Eligibility Rule has been reviewed and the Board has agreed to implement a recommendation from the review panel and immediately change this rule to allow for international as well as New Zealand candidates to apply,” NZRL chairman Reon Edwards said.
“While this change is designed to ensure the best possible person is appointed to the job, it should not be read in any way as a comment on the World Cup coach’s past performance, nor on his possible re-appointment in the role due to his appointment having concluded at the end of the 2017 World Cup.”
Kidwell will be able to reapply for the role but the fact that the NZRL is scouring the market for alternatives is not a good sign for his chances of retaining the position.
The former Kiwis international had a difficult introduction to the coaching job after losing a Test series in England and then having captain Jesse Bromwich and Kevin Proctor involved recreational drug dramas following last year’s Anzac Test loss to the Kangaroos in Canberra.
After banning Bromwich and Proctor from the World Cup, Kidwell lost New Zealand’s star forward Jason Taumalolo, as well as a handful of other Kiwis representatives, to Tonga at the World Cup.
“As I said before Christmas, the review will input into the NZRL’s Strategic Plan, which is well evolved and has been focusing on the delivery of better outcomes for the game,” Edwards said.
“The plan establishes our strategic direction – setting out significant steps to build on and improve rugby league in New Zealand, from a core focus at grassroots level through to our high performance programs and the Kiwis.”