The most experienced coach in the game has put his hand up to lead New Zealand’s Test team with Wayne Bennett declaring: “the door is certainly open for me.”
The Kiwis are on the hunt for a new coach after parting ways with Michael Maguire, who has since signed a three-year deal with the New South Wales Blues.
While Nathan Cayless and Stacey Jones are said to be leading the race for the role, Bennett told News Corp that he is “open” to the job if NZRL would have him.
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“I’m not retired yet so if the Kiwis are interested, I’m certainly open to it,” the 73-year-old told News Corp.
“I’ve got a history with New Zealand. I was involved with the All Golds team (in 2007), that was a great experience, we had a tour of England and I was coach of the team.
“I’ve also worked with Steve Kearney (former Kiwis coach) when he was coaching the Kiwis and they won the World Cup in 2008 with Steve in charge.
“I have great affection for the Kiwis, I coach several of their guys at the Dolphins in the (Jesse and Kenny) Bromwich boys and Jamayne Isaako.
“The door is certainly open for me. If it’s an option for the New Zealand Rugby League, they know where to find me.”
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Bennett is regarded was one of the best coaches the game has seen and has experience at an international level having previously led Australia and England during his 36-year career.
He is contracted to the Dolphins for one more season. He’ll then hand over the reins to Kristian Woolf.
“I have a great regard for international rugby league,” Bennett said.
“I’ve always given back to that arena. The reason I was part of the 2008 World Cup with New Zealand (as an assistant)… the media were bagging the international game and saying it was just a walkover for Australia.
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“That’s why I got involved. I didn’t want to stand there and watch international league die, I thought let’s give this a shot and it was a great tournament for the Kiwis.
“With the Samoans and Tongans on the rise, there’s a lot more interest, there’s a lot more to be done, so the international game is heading in the right direction now.
“I don’t know what the end of the year (2024) holds for me but I’ll be finishing up as head coach of the Dolphins, so I’ll be unemployed and looking at all my options.”
NZRL is not in a rush given the Kiwis don’t play again until October, but CEO Greg Peters said the governing body would “like to see something settled…
Read More: Wayne Bennett open to coaching New Zealand Kiwis, Michael Maguire stands down, 2023-12-03 03:42:48