David Kidwell's chances of staying on as Kiwis coach remain doubtful after the New Zealand Rugby League confirmed the job will be made open to all applicants – not just New Zealanders.
The NZRL announced today the head coaching position would be open to all candidates but stressed the change "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".
Kidwell is off-contract and facing a battle to win reappointment after the Kiwis managed just three wins from 10 tests under his guidance, culminating in their shock World Cup quarter-final exit at the hands of Fiji late last year.
He will still be able to apply for the job but the fact the NZRL are looking to broaden their scope does not bode well for his chances.
"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," said NZRL chairman Reon Edwards.
"While this change is designed to ensure the best possible person is appointed to the job, it 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 due to his appointment having concluded at the end of the 2017 World Cup."
The NZRL also confirmed it has received a draft Preliminary Summary Report of a comprehensive review of the Kiwis' failed World Cup campaign.
Prepared and presented by independent panellists Tim Castle and Raelene Castle, the full report is expected to be finalised and presented at the next NZRL board meeting on 28 February, with the findings expected to be made public in early March.
The NZRL also announced plans, in line with another recommendation made by the review panel, to establish an independent panel tasked with providing a recommendation for Head Coach of the Kiwis to the NZRL board.
"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."
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