“Unfinished business” for Michael Maguire as Kiwis future confirmed

Drew Darbyshire
Michael Maguire New Zealand Kiwis SWpix

Photo: Martin Hunter/www.photosport.nz/SWpix.com

New Zealand have confirmed that coach Michael Maguire will lead the Kiwis through to the 2025 World Cup in France.

The NZRL board recently concluded its debrief of last year’s World Cup. The Kiwis were knocked out by champions Australia 16-14 in a thrilling semi-final at Elland Road.

Maguire, who took charge of New Zealand in 2018, has had his contract extended on the back of last year’s tournament.

He said: “We have achieved enormous growth since 2017.

“To be only inches away from the final still hurts; however, this playing group is more determined than ever to take home a World Cup for themselves, their families and their country.

“There is a strong culture among the boys, the passion for the Black and White jersey is undeniable, couple that with the exciting talent coming through, we’re in a positive place.

“No doubt, there’s unfinished business.

“Thank you to the NZRL Board for continuing their faith in me as head coach. It’s a privilege to coach this Kiwi team, and I’m confident in what we can achieve over the next three years.”

Ricky Henry to continue coaching Kiwi Ferns

New Zealand have also confirmed that Ricky Henry will remain in his position as the Kiwi Ferns boss through to the next World Cup.

The Kiwi Ferns reached the World Cup final last year, where they fell to a 54-4 defeat to Australia at Old Trafford.

Henry said: “It’s an exciting time to be involved in women’s rugby league and a privilege to lead the Kiwi Ferns through to 2025.

“The women’s game is evolving rapidly. I’m determined to create the best pathways to nurture and develop New Zealand’s female talent.

“My focus will be getting us back to number one in the world and bringing that World Cup trophy back home to New Zealand.”

NZRL boss confident Michael Maguire and Ricky Henry can deliver success

In addition to their re-appointments, the NZRL has identified key areas where further support is needed to ensure success in the next campaign.

Improved depth, a culture change, and evident growth since 2017 were all positive talking points in the debrief of the World Cup.

NZRL chief executive Greg Peters said: “Overall, there were many positives to take away from both campaigns.

“However, we recognise where NZRL has to provide further support to put us in the best position to be victorious in 2025.

“Since Michael came on board, NZRL and the Kiwi playing group have made significant strides since their last World Cup appearance.

“No doubt the semi-final heartbreak still stings, but the growth the squad has experienced under Michael gives the board confidence he is the coach to lead the Kiwis to victory in 2025..

“The board has the same confidence in Ricky.

“He has done great work with the Ferns. Despite one of our more inexperienced world cup squads, nearly defeating the Jillaroos in pool play and a convincing win over England in the semi-final are positive takeaways.

“Of course, we were all disappointed in the final result; however, with increased support from NZRL, the board is confident Ricky remains the right man for the job.”

The appetite for more international rugby league

Peters has emphasised the need for regular international matches, saying capitalising on last year’s World Cup is a must.

He said: “The lead-up to the 2022 campaign was heavily disrupted due to Covid, with New Zealand not playing Australia since 2019.

“The added delay of the 2021 tournament means there’s only a two-year window before the next RLWC.

“Consistency and yearly international programmes have never been more important.

“We need an annual end-of-year International competition with regular Kiwis and Kiwi Ferns Tests that become permanent fixtures in the rugby league calendar.

“We’re working closely with the NRL and IRL to flesh out what this looks like and will be in a position to announce the 2023 international programme soon.”

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