It was announced last week that former Wigan Warriors Head Coach Michael Maguire had stepped down from his role in charge of New Zealand, a decision that has since split opinion.
Maguire had just coached the Kiwis to a record victory over rivals Australia in the Pacific Championship Final but he made the decision to step down from the role, something that was announced 20 days after the historic victory.
At the time of the decision the New Zealand Rugby League Chief Executive Greg Peters paid his respect to Maguire, releasing the following statement.
“The mana, history and whakapapa associated with the black and white jersey mean any role in and around the Kiwi team is the ultimate privilege. Michael’s dedication to the role and players has seen him achieve incredible things over the last six years.
“Michael is the ultimate professional and has connected deeply with the NZRL whānau and playing group. We wish him nothing but success in his next career step.”
The speculation regarding why Maguire would step down stemmed from the fact that he reportedly wanted to take on the vacant New South Wales job, something he believed he could do whilst still coaching internationally.
Those involved in New Zealand rugby saw that as a conflict of interest and had even considered sacking Maguire before the ex-Wigan head coach opted to step down.
Coaching the Blues now looks set to be on the cards for Maguire, a role that is vacant after Brad Fittler stepped down from in September following back to back series defeats.
One man who is glad that Maguire wasn’t able to continue on as Kiwi coach whilst opting to take on the New South Wales job as well is former New Zealand international Tony Kemp.
Kemp has claimed that New Zealand Rugby League were right in their decision to pressure Maguire into a choice between his international job and the Blues job, claiming it was a clear “conflict of interest”.
He told SEN: “This has never been about Maguire, it’s about the Kiwi job being the pinnacle.
“It’s about someone using the NZ role as a stepping stone to coach for NSW, Queensland and Australia.
“NZ shouldn’t be in that position where their coach is (directing) talent into NSW, Queensland or Australian jerseys.”
Kemp continued: “(NZRL) had every right to say they wanted someone who was fully committed (and) he picked NSW.
“He tried to coach NSW and the Kiwis and it was a clear conflict of interest (because) of the rules around eligibility (for Origin).
“You can have a Kiwi who can play for NSW or NZ (and) if you’re Blues coach, of course you want him for NSW.”
Whilst Maguire hasn’t been confirmed as the Blues coach yet, New South Wales Rugby League did contact NRL.com last week upon Maguire stepping down, releasing the following statement.
“It is common knowledge that the NSWRL Board has been working through a process with Michael Maguire,” the spokesperson told NRL.com.
“As soon as the matter is finalised we will make a public announcement but until then, we will not be making further comment.”