New Zealand Rugby League to expand search for new coach

David Kidwell's chances of remaining Kiwis coach are slim after this announcement.
David Kidwell's chances of remaining Kiwis coach are slim after this announcement. Photo credit: Getty Images

New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) has opened its coaching search to international candidates, which doesn't bode well for incumbent David Kidwell.

The announcement was one of two made by NZRL on Monday, as a part of the review into the Kiwis' failed World Cup campaign.

Kidwell is off contract and facing a battle to win reappointment, after the Kiwis won three games out of 10 during his tenure - including losses to Tonga and Fiji at the World Cup.

But 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".

"A summary of the review panel's findings is scheduled to be made public early in March 2018, however, the Board has agreed to make two immediate changes," said NZRL chair Reon Edwards.

"The first is that 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."

Kidwell will be able to reapply for the role, but the fact that NZRL is scouring the market for alternatives doesn't look good for the former Kiwis representative.

Edwards confirmed the 2017 World Cup review findings were still scheduled to be released concurrently with the four-year Strategic Plan, developed during 2017.

"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.

"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 programmes and the Kiwis."

Brisbane Broncos coach Wayne Bennett has previously spoken about a potential future return to the Kiwis fold.

Bennett was a World Cup winner with New Zealand in 2008, when he assisted then-rookie coach Stephen Kearney, and coached England to the final in the 2017 tournament.

He is currently off contract and is yet to decide if he will return.

The decision on who will coach England is expected to be announced by the end of the month.