League: Morrison ready for Kiwis job

By Michael Brown

Glenn Morrison, here in his playing days, was the bolter on the shortlist for the Kiwis coaching job. Photo / Getty
Glenn Morrison, here in his playing days, was the bolter on the shortlist for the Kiwis coaching job. Photo / Getty

As a player, Glenn Morrison was known for his blond barnet and bustling style and now as a coach he's gained notoriety as being a contender for the Kiwis coaching role.

Morrison was yesterday named as one of four shortlisted for the Kiwis job. His name stuck out like Willie Mason's jaw, alongside incumbent Stephen Kearney, David Kidwell and Richie Blackmore, with many wondering Glenn who?

The 37-year-old had a long playing career for Balmain, North Sydney, Parramatta and North Queensland in Australia before finishing his career in the UK Super League with Bradford and Wakefield. He played four times for NSW Country Origin and in 2001 was Cowboys Player of the Year.

Even before retiring as a player in 2011, Morrison knew he wanted to coach and helped out with various sides including Wakefield's under-18s and under-20s and took up a role as Wakefield assistant coach and head coach of their under-20s and nines sides when he stopped playing.

He has also been assistant coach of the Exiles in the UK and in 2012 was appointed coach of Dewsbury, taking them to the finals of the Championship last year for the first time in 13 seasons.

It is a massive jump to Kiwis coach, however, and Morrison is aware he is the outsider.

"I believe in my abilities as a coach and obviously they have seen something as well to put me on the shortlist,'' said Morrison, who played and learned under the likes of Tim Sheens, Brian Smith, Steve McNamara and John Kear.

"Anyone who is a coach would love to have that role. It's one of the top roles in rugby league. They didn't get the result they wanted at the World Cup but it's a chance for the new coach to get them back to No 1 and I believe with the talent pool they have they can easily achieve that.

"This year I took a step back to take a step forward to be head coach of Dewsbury to show I have my own coaching ideas and philosophies. And we were successful in our first year.

"I don't want to hold a team back and I like to have player input with the senior player group. You get more out of it when it's player driven. So far I have been pretty successful. I have my brand of rugby league, which is pretty expansive, and I think that fits well with the way the Kiwis play and the talent available.''

The Kiwis were badly beaten by Australia in last year's World Cup final but Kearney remains the favourite for the job. He has considerable support within the halls of the NZRL as well as among the players and says he has "unfinished business'' with the side.

Kidwell is the main contender, having impressed many since joining the coaching ranks in 2010. He recently started as Wests Tigers assistant after three years under Craig Bellamy in Melbourne.

Blackmore has had good success in New Zealand, having won two Fox Memorial titles and taken the Auckland Vulcans to the NSW Cup grand final, but his lack of NRL or UK Super League coaching experience is likely to count against him.

The quartet were among 14 applicants and will be interviewed by a six-strong appointment panel over the next week with a recommendation due with the NZRL board by mid-February.

The Kiwis' first fixture this year will be the annual Anzac test on May 2 at a venue yet to be decided.

- APNZ

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