NZ Kiwis coach Stephen Kearney will lead the men’s national side into the 2017 Rugby League World Cup, after masterminding last year’s successful Four Nations campaign.
New Zealand Rugby League has extended Kearney’s existing contract, due to end this year, for a further two years.
The former Kiwis captain was first appointed in 2008, when he guided the team to World Cup glory, so the new extension will see him become the first national coach to spend an entire decade at the helm.
When Kearney leads the Kiwis into the Anzac Test on May 1, he will become the longest continuously serving national coach.
Previously, Frank Endacott coached from 1994-2000, while Scotty McClymont’s tenure spanned 1938-52, but included years where no teams played during World War II and two other teams toured without coaches appointed.
“After the disappointing end to the 2013 World Cup, I think we recognised the need to rebuild the Kiwis culture,” says NZRL chief executive Phil Holden.
“We were pretty confident that Stephen was still the right man for that job, but needed to put the right structures around him to help him succeed.
“Winning the Four Nations showed that we are on the right track and it’s appropriate that we give Stephen some job security, so he can build towards the next World Cup.”
Beyond the Anzac Test at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium, the Kiwis also face an end-of-year tour to England and another trip to the Northern Hemisphere to defend their Four Nations crown next year.
NZRL has also revealed the Kiwis Anzac Test jersey, featuring the official Anzac poppy emblem and gold trim to the traditional black-and-white design.
“We recognise that the black jersey is a powerful image and something our players aspire to wear, so we don’t want to tinker with it too much,” says Holden.
“But this is obviously the centenary of the Gallipoli landings, and we wanted to pay respect to that important piece of New Zealand and Australian history in a tasteful way.
“Gold is a colour that has been important in Kiwis history – our first national side were known as the All Golds – so this seemed like a subtle way of making this particular jersey distinctive, without compromising our values.”