League: Kearney likely to be challenged

Stephen Kearney (left) is still getting over the Kiwis' World Cup defeat. Photo / Getty Images
Stephen Kearney (left) is still getting over the Kiwis' World Cup defeat. Photo / Getty Images

Stephen Kearney is likely to face challengers for his job as Kiwis rugby league coach.

New Zealand Rugby League announced today it is advertising the role. Kearney's contract ended after the World Cup, in November, when Australia beat the Kiwis in the final in England.

"We have a big year in prospect and want a strong build-up towards what may well be a 2017 World Cup on home soil," NZRL chief executive Phil Holden said.

"Stephen has done a great job with the Kiwis, but this is a chance for us to test the market and see who else puts their hand up for the role."

Kearney guided the Kiwis to the World Cup crown in 2008 and the 2010 Four Nations title.

The Kiwis have their annual Anzac fixture against the Kangaroos in May and the Four Nations later in the year, with dates and venues to be confirmed for both.

Applications will close on January 31, with a short list of candidates to be interviewed early next month and a recommendation made to the NZRL board by the middle of the month.

The six-man selection panel consists of Holden, three NZRL board members - chairman Scott Carter, former Kiwis player Iva Ropati and former Kiwis manager Ray Haffenden - NZRL high performance manager Tony Iro, and High Performance Sport NZ coaching consultant and world champion Black Sox softball coach Eddie Kohlhase.

"What's driving this from our point of view is the Anzac test," said Holden, adding the desire was for as "robust" a search as possible. "We're trying to create as much time as we can to prepare for that first challenge of the year."

The appointment process will take place in parallel with a review of the Kiwis' World Cup campaign, conducted under a template provided by HPSNZ and due for completion early next month.

Among those who might be in the frame include David Kidwell, who is assistant coach at the Melbourne Storm, and NZRL high performance manager Tony Iro.

- NZ Herald

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