18 August 2022

as seen on NRL.com

Kiwis coach Michael Maguire wants more New Zealanders involved in the national team setup and has identified incoming Wests Tigers assistant Benji Marshall as one of his top targets moving forward.

Marshall, who was handed an international lifeline by Maguire in 2019 after almost seven years of being overlooked by the Kiwis, will begin his coaching career as an assistant to Tim Sheens next year, ironically as part of the full-time coaching group who will take over at the Wests Tigers after Maguire and the club parted ways earlier this year.

Maguire, who first spoke of Marshall’s potential as a coach while he was still playing back in 2019, told NRL.com that he was holding off having discussions with the 37-year-old about a role with the Kiwis until he had found his feet at club level.

“Benji has been busy with his media stuff and only just committed [to coaching], so I think he will be fairly busy getting his thoughts around his role and how he wants to do his coaching when he gets into club land,” Maguire said.

“I don’t think it’s got a timeline on it, I think it’s just for him to be comfortable with what he’s doing.

“Everyone progresses at a different speed. Players that played at his level, there’s a lot of knowledge in place already and you tend, as a senior player, to do a fair bit of coaching as you get to the back end of your career.

“So all that sort of knowledge will play a part in the progression.”

Interim Warriors coach Stacey Jones and kicking guru Daryl Halligan are the New Zealanders confirmed to be on Maguire’s coaching staff for the end-of-year World Cup, while Cronulla assistant Steve Price and Wests Tigers assistant Ben Gardiner will also be part of the group.

Other Kiwis currently working in prominent roles with NRL clubs include Nathan Cayless and Slade Griffin, who serve as assistants at the Wests Tigers and Warriors respectively, while former Kiwis coach Stephen Kearney is with the Storm.

Maguire also pointed to recently retired Kiwis forward Adam Blair and UK-based playmaker Thomas Leuluai as potential high-level coaches in the future.

“I see ‘Blairy’ as a real potential moving forward. He is on the selection panel for the Kiwis and he is doing a lot of coaching on the ground in New Zealand, so I think he will find himself as a coach at an organisation in the future,” Maguire said.

“Someone like a Blairy and Nathan Cayless, they’ve led their country, and they have got a lot of knowledge.

“They have got so much knowledge and have been some of the best players in the world, and them going into coaching is what is going to be part of growing the game in New Zealand.”

Maguire is the first non-New Zealander to coach the Kiwis since Daniel Anderson in the early 2000s and in his 10 Tests in charge so far has won 60 percent of the time.