Kearney, 41, has been in charge of the Kiwi national team for six years, and under his watch they won the 2008 World Cup and the 2010 Four Nations competition.
In the 2013 World Cup final Kearney’s side were completely outplayed by Australia, losing 34-2, so after agreeing a new contract with the NZRL in February, he has since been focusing on selection for the rematch with the Kangaroos in May.
“He was probably the best player on the park, and although Greg Inglis got three tries, Issac did a lot of the leg work defensively.
“Jason Taumalolo [North Queensland] made a really big difference on the Saturday, with his powerful running for the full 80 minutes.”
In round two, the main player to shine was Melbourne prop Jesse Bromwich, who celebrated signing a new contract with a Man of the Match performance.
“Jesse was constantly doing his job and getting his team on the front foot with a really strong performance,” observed Kearney.
“I thought Jared Waerea-Hargreaves [Sydney Roosters] also sent out a real statement with a strong match.
“He got his team going forward and never let up, consequently they had a pretty convincing win.”