Jason Taumalolo of Tonga leads the challenge.
Jason Taumalolo of Tonga leads the challenge.

New Kiwis coach needs Taumalolo: Kemp

TWO things will dictate the success of New Zealand's next rugby league coach, according to former Kiwi Test star Tony Kemp.

Firstly, the right staff around him and, secondly, getting Jason Taumalolo back in black.

Former South Sydney mentor Michael Maguire is poised to be unveiled as David Kidwell's successor on Thursday.

Kemp believes Kidwell was set up to fail because of the lack of quality support around him leading into and during last year's poor World Cup campaign, when they were stunned in the quarter-finals by Fiji.

He says Maguire will suffer the same fate if the New Zealand Rugby League doesn't successfully overhaul its back office and team management structure.

"We saw David Kidwell left out in the lurch," Kemp said.

"You had a high-performance department that wasn't working and a CEO (Alex Hayton) that lacked leadership.

Jason Taumalolo is tackled while playing for the Kiwis.
Jason Taumalolo is tackled while playing for the Kiwis.

"If they think they can fix this problem by just hiring a coach, they've got rocks in their head."

Kemp says Maguire, who famously steered Souths to the 2014 NRL premiership before being sacked last season, will need some early advice on preparing for a Test match, which is completely different to the club grind.

A priority should be luring blockbusting North Queensland forward Taumalolo, who deserted the Kiwis last year and represented Tonga in their heady charge to the World Cup semi-finals.

Kemp says Taumalolo's move inspired others to choose Pacific Island representation and his return would have a similar impact.

"Michael's first task is to connect with the players and, more importantly, to connect with the players that we've lost," he said.

"Jason's decision in particular had a definite ripple effect through the junior grades.

"If those players stay away, the question becomes whether we remain a tier one team or whether we get sucked into the tier two position on the international criteria."



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