Former Wigan Warriors coach Michael McGuire has been confirmed as the new head coach of the Kiwis today.
Following a disappointing RLWC campaign last winter, former coach David Kidwell left his post as head coach of the New Zealand international team and officially left his post last month after opting to not re-apply for the role.
After displaying a willingness to hire a foreign boss, 44 year-old McGuire sought the opportunity to coach at international level and, after the NZRL interviewed fellow Aussies Laurie Daley, Des Hasler and Geoff Toovey, the former South Sydney Rabbitohs boss has been appointed. After six years with the Bunnies, his undoubted highlight would have been winning the NRL Grand Final in 2014 with the three Burgess brothers, ending a 43 year wait for Souths to win the title. Prior to that, his time with Wigan saw him lift both the Super League League Leaders’ Shield and Grand Final in 2010 as well as the Challenge Cup in 2011. Bearing that in mind, he clearly has the pedigree to guide the Kiwis back to the top. He is leaving a position with the NRL involving working with officials in order to return to coaching.
While Kidwell’s performance as coach was drawn into question in the recent World Cup, one massive reason for the poor showing has to be the withdrawal of players from the Kiwi set up in the run-up to the tournament. Jason Taumololo was the most notable defector as he joined up with the Tongan squad as other players followed suit and, along with the absences of captain Jesse Bromwich and Kevin Proctor due to being caught using and buying cocaine earlier in the year, the team was rather depleted.
It will be interesting to see what team is picked by McGuire in his first match as head coach of the Kiwis which is just over a month away as they prepare to face England in Denver. One of the names he has already spoken about is the Wests Tigers half back Benji Marshall. “Benji’s playing some of the best footy we’ve seen,” Maguire told media sources Down Under and the highly talented 33 year-old would definitely add a wow-factor to the team. Having fallen out with former coaches Stephen Kearney and Kidwell, Marshall’s last international involvement came over five years ago but it seems that he has a chance once more under new coach McGuire.