League: Kemble pleads for job after whitewash

WIGAN - New Zealand coach Gary Kemble made a public plea not be sacked after the Kiwis succumbed to a 3-0 rugby league test series clean sweep at the hands of Great Britain.

Rival Tony Smith offered his support following the 28-22 Great Britain win at JJB Stadium but also blasted unnamed members of the NZ camp for making excuses for their poor showing.

"I want the job," said Kemble, whose position will be reviewed after he was originally contracted to take the Kiwis through to next year's World Cup.

"The New Zealand Rugby League are fully behind me, they know what's going on.

"It's disappointing to lose the series but the players are tight.

"Everything we do, we do together.

"They've got stronger as individuals on this tour."

Kemble even recounted how he told his players at fulltime they almost won a test series, despite an aggregate score of 92-36 against them.

For Smith, who has won four tests from four in charge of Great Britain, the focus on the players the Kiwis have unavailable - such as Benji Marshall, Sonny Bill Williams and Brent Webb - is unfair.

"I don't get it when you talk about what wasn't here and what wasn't available," the brother of Newcastle coach Brian Smith said.

"Otherwise you just list your best 17 down on paper and you wouldn't play. Just cross em off, mine's better than yours, end of series.

"Whether they want to play or whether they are injured, that's all hypothetical isn't it?

"That's what we deserve - some credit that we are getting better."

But after watching his side score 26 unanswered points after training 12-0 early, he called on NZRL officials not to sack Kemble.

"The people who make appointments have to keep faith in their appointments," he said.

Smith also said the officiating of Australian referee Tony Archer during the series had made British whistlers look good.

The match was promoted as Great Britain's last-ever on home soil with England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales to divide from 2008 on and the Lions to tour overseas only occasionally.

After New Zealand debut winger Chase Stanley scored in the seventh minute with his first touch of the ball, it was his spilt bomb that allowed Great Britain to grab a 14-12 halftime lead with winger David Hodgson's try.

The closest the Kiwis got in the second half was with winger Taniela Tuiaki's consolation try with 10 seconds left.

British centre Keith Senior hinted he might shelve retirement plans.

Halfback Rob Burrow was named man of the match, lock Sean O'Loughlin player of the series.

For the Kiwis, five-eighth Ben Roberts restored his reputation following a poor showing against Australia in Wellington and a month in the selection dog house.

Kemble said his players were upset to have been left waiting on the field during the presentation of the Baskiville Shield at fulltime without any acknowledgement.

Their tour concludes against France in Paris next Saturday.

- AAP

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