Rugby League: NZ Kiwis coach Michael Maguire proud of team's bounceback drubbing of world champions Australia

With his own future hanging in the balance, NZ Kiwis coach Michael Maguire is beaming with pride over his team's Pacific Championship success over archrivals Australia.

Maguire has reportedly been offered the New South Wales job for next year's State of Origin, so his continued prospects on this side of the Tasman may depend on whether NZ Rugby League is happy to share his services with another representative team.

He has painstakingly refused to discuss the Origin role while in camp with the Kiwis, but their record 30-0 victory over the world champions at Hamilton said everything needed about the importance of keeping maguire involved with the national team.

Michael Maguire congratulates Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad on his Player of the Match performance.
Michael Maguire congratulates Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad on his Player of the Match performance. Photo credit: Photosport

"You never think a test match is going to be 30-0, but there's something special within this group, which I've always believed," said Maguire. "They were able to bring it out, especially this week, but right from the start of the camp.

"Naming [James Fisher-Harris] as captain... he's been exceptional as captain. Just the way the group has come together and the feeling they have as brothers, I felt they had a performance like that, but I was really pleased with the way they were able to defend the way they did."

Just seven days earlier, the same line-up was savaged 36-18 at Melbourne by a Kangaroos line-up without star front-rowers Payne Haas and Tino Fa'asuamaleaui, resting up for the final. Even with those fresh legs in the middle of the park, Australia were unable to dent a Kiwis defence, led by lock Joseph Tapine's 33 tackles.

"To be honest, I actually through last week they did a lot of good things," insisted Maguire. "I said at halftime last week that I was very happy with what they were doing, they just had to go out and do it again.

"We probably weren't able to do that at the start of the second half and got bogged down, and they scored a couple of late tries, but I always felt this group, with what I know they're capable of doing, could get that special performance.

"Obviously, I'm really pleased with the scoreline and how they went about it."

Maguire and his Kiwis were fuelled by memories of last year's Rugby League World Cup, where they drew the same side of the draw as the Kangaroos and fell desperately short of their goal in the semi-finals.

"A lot of us toured last year together and there was a feeling in the changingroom that I never want again," he said. "I guess the players felt the same.

"When you go through a bit of adversity together and come out the other side - and I knew they would - I'm just really proud of them."

Maguire reveals fullback Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad - a survivor of that failed World Cup campaign - played the last two tests against Australia with a broken rib suffered against Samoa two weeks ago.

After an indifferent showing at Melbourne, Nicoll-Klokstad produced one of his very best performances in the final, running for 277 metres and earning Player of the Match honours.

"He probably wasn't meant to play, but it just shows what players will do when they're playing for their country and they're playing for their brothers," said Maguire. "It was a special performance.

"He wasn't quite sure when he first did it, afer the Samoan game, whether he'd keep going, but he didn't want to leave. When you've got things like that going on within your group and good leadership, you come up with special performances.

Kiwis celebrate their Pacific Championship victory over Australia.
Kiwis celebrate their Pacific Championship victory over Australia. Photo credit: Photosport

"It's really a credit to the players."

Afterwards, Nicoll-Klokstad accepted his accolades with an emotional outpouring that hinted at the behind-the-scenes challenges he had to overcome.

"From week one, we had that belief that we could go all the way and get this result," he said. "To make these memories with you, I wouldn't have it any other way.

"You guys are world class athletes, and I'm learning each and every day from you. Hopefully, there are lots and lots more memories like this to come."

Fisher-Harris admits several players carried niggles into the game, but pushed beyond them for the cause.

Nudged on his coaching future, Maguire insists he wants to remain in the Kiwis role.

"I never wanted to leave," he said. "We've got a fair bit of unfinished business to do as a group.

"I'm very passionate with my players and when you've got players putting in like they did there, it's pretty easy to turn up."