Michael Maguire highlights the Kiwi star who isn’t talked about enough

Drew Darbyshire
New Zealand Kiwis Michael Maguire PA

New Zealand coach Michael Maguire believes his star half-back Jahrome Hughes doesn’t get the recognition he deserves and should be talked about a lot more.

The 28-year-old has been one of the NRL’s premier playmakers for several years now with Melbourne. In 2022, he scored 12 tries and provided 12 assists in 21 appearances for the Storm.

Hughes is all but certain to start at the World Cup in a strong Kiwis spine, which features the likes of Joey Manu, Dylan Brown, Kieran Foran and Brandon Smith.

“It’s a fantastic story about Jahrome,” Kiwis coach Maguire told Love Rugby League.

“I remember four or five years ago he arrived in Melbourne from the Gold Coast and put his head down and worked really hard. The organisation voted him as their best player last year. I don’t think he’s talked about enough. He’s a very handy player.

“I’ve got a young player like Dylan Brown coming in and I’ve got Kieran Foran who can help guide and manage the team. Obviously having Joey Manu and Brandon Smith, that’s a quality spine and that’s key for what you want to do as a coach.”

New Zealand get their World Cup campaign underway against Lebanon in Warrington on Sunday, October 16.

Hooker Smith has been bringing the good vibes to the Kiwis camp, according to Maguire.

“He’s been really good,” Maguire said. “He’s a top man, Smithy. He is obviously a character but you’ve got to have that in a team.

“A lot of people love him for him being him and that’s what makes rugby league, we’ve got characters.”

Michael Maguire welcomes healthy selection headache

Many rugby league experts and pundits are tipping New Zealand to win their first World Cup since 2008 this autumn.

Although Maguire wants his side to walk the walk rather than talk the talk, he has welcomed having strength in depth.

“I have (competition for places) which is a great place to be as a coach,” Maguire said.

“The players are competitors and want to play so we are going to have some tough conversations along the way, but I know the 17 who go out there, that the rest of the squad will be right behind them. That’s what makes great teams.

“You’ve got to be able to have the depths of talent that we have to be able to have success and that’s what we’ve been working on for three or four years now.

“Australia have the runs on the board in World Cups and New Zealand has only had one. To think they have only had one across a long period of time and the amount of players who have come out of New Zealand… The players are aware of that and they want to make sure they can add to that now.”

The Kiwis are in a group alongside Lebanon, Ireland and Jamaica at this year’s World Cup.

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