Former New Zealand test captain Dean Bell has been named to lead a panel tasked with appointing the new Kiwis coach.

Bell, together with former New Zealand coach Frank Endacott, former Kiwis forward Monty Betham, and former Silver Ferns netball coach Waimarama Taumaunu will interview candidates and make a recommendation to the NZRL board which will finalise the appointment.

A press release from the New Zealand Rugby League explained the panel will also contain a 'recruitment specialist' tasked with supporting the panel on HR matters and "ensuring the transparency of the recruitment process."

The position, most recently held by former coach David Kidwell, is now officially open to all interested parties - not just New Zealand-based coaches - with applications closing on April 6.


"A key recommendation of the post 2017 World Cup review was that there should be more transparency and rigor around various appointments," NZRL chairman Reon Edwards said in a statement.

"This independent panel is a great step forward for what is going to be a busy year for the game."

Bell says there should be no excuses for the Kiwis not being competitive following their capitulation at last year's World Cup, that saw them bundled out in the quarter-finals following consecutive losses to second-tier sides Tonga and Fiji.

"With the depth of rugby league talent the Kiwis have at their disposal, we should be challenging the best international sides, including Australia, and achieving consistent success," said Bell.

"I've already spoken with other members of the panel and as a group we're determined to support the NZRL in moving on from the issues raised in the review of the last World Cup campaign.

"We need to make sure that test football is given the status it deserves."

The new coach's first assignment will be preparing the Kiwis for a one-off test against England in Denver, Colorado on June 23.

The Kiwis are also booked to host the World Champion Kangaroos at the end of the NRL season before embarking on a tour of England and France in October and November.

It remains to be seen what sort of side the Kiwis are able to field with NRL clubs less than impressed by the prospect of releasing their stars to make the hit-and-run long-haul trip to play at altitude in the 'Mile High City'.

"The test has been scheduled in the internationally agreed window, so we're now just working with the clubs in Australia to ensure we put the best possible team on the field," Edwards said.

To get the day's top sports stories in your inbox, sign up to our newsletter here