5 April 2023

The New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) board has today announced that Kiwis’ Head Coach, Michael Maguire and Kiwi Ferns’ Head Coach, Ricky Henry, will remain in their positions through the 2025 World Cup.

NZRL recently concluded its 2022 Rugby League World Cup (RLWC) debrief, where both Maguire and Henry’s roles as Head Coaches have been extended, with the board confident they are the right people to lead New Zealand to victory come 2025.

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

“Overall, there were many positives to take away from both campaigns,” says NZRL CEO Greg Peters.

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

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

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

“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”, Peters adds.

“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.”

Henry is grateful for the continued opportunity and is determined to nurture New Zealand’s pathways.

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

“The women’s game is evolving rapidly, and 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 1 in the world and bringing that World Cup trophy back home to New Zealand.”

Maguire remains confident in the direction and progress of the Kiwi team, with his eyes set on victory in 2025.

“We have achieved enormous growth since 2017,” says Maguire.

“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,” adds Maguire.

“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.”

NZRL CEO Greg Peters emphasises the need for regular international programmes.

“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,” he adds.

“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.”




By Adam Pengilly – Sydney Morning Herald

Newly-appointed New Zealand coach Michael Maguire insisted his first Kiwi squad will be desperate to back up for their NRL clubs after the historic Denver Test match against England, which he stressed will put “pride back in the jersey”.

Just days after the Rugby League Players Association, NRL and its clubs signed a letter saying they wouldn’t be compelled to release players for the mid-season fixture if it returned in 2019 and 2020, Maguire is hellbent picking players who will travel “anywhere” to represent their country.

Stars such as the Dragons’ Englishmen Gareth Widdop and James Graham could be asked to back up for their club just 48 hours after returning to Australia from the US, which will be played on the same weekend as the standalone State of Origin clash in Sydney.

But former Rabbitohs premiership-winning coach Maguire is confident every precaution has been taken to ensure players are able to back up.

“The players are going to be completely looked after,” Maguire said. “They’re flying over in business class and we’ve got some real quality staff that are working on their peak performance. A lot of them have worked at NRL clubs and we understand the expectations and what it takes to look after the players for this current game, right down to sleep patterns to best adjust.

“A Kiwi player should be striving [to back up for their NRL club]. They got there because of club football and the players around them and it’s about the respect you give back. I know there’s various turnarounds, but players will want to play for their club no matter what the circumstance.”

Maguire, who has taken over the Kiwis job from David Kidwell, has promised to ring some changes to the squad which was dumped from the World Cup in the quarter-finals by giant killers Fiji.

He’s watched with delight the impact young forwards James Fisher-Harris and Corey Harawira-Naera have had at the table-topping Panthers, but has also told veteran halves Benji Marshall and Kieran Foran where they sit in the Kiwi pecking order.

“Every single player I’ve spoken to has really shown quite a bit of emotion about wanting to play for that jersey” -Michael Maguire

“I have spoken to both of them,” Maguire said. “They’re aware of where they’re at and in the next week or so I’ll be selecting a team with the thought pattern of putting pride back in the jersey. Every single player I’ve spoken to has really shown quite a bit of emotion about wanting to play for that jersey.

“It goes to show international footy is really alive. We’ve got to realise it’s a Test match and kids grow up wanting to play in Test matches. People have mixed opinions about this game and where it’s being played, but it’s going ahead. I’m looking for players that want to put their hand up and say, ‘I want to play for New Zealand wherever it might be’.

“I have been [impressed with Marshall]. I think he’s shown a maturity around his game, he’s very experienced and he’s shown this year how to control a game and he’s added a lot to the Wests Tigers. He’s playing the game in a different space to where he’s been before. He’s exciting with his attack, but he also has a balance with when to do that as well.”

Maguire got the nod to resume his coaching career with New Zealand, topping a shortlist which included Des Hasler and Laurie Daley.