In what could be the writing on the wall for Stephen Kearney, New Zealand Rugby League has formally advertised the Kiwis head coach role.
Kearney guided the Kiwis to their 2008 World Cup triumph - when he was assisted by Australian mastermind Wayne Bennett - and 2010 Four Nations success.
But, most recently, Kearney was at the helm for the embarrassing 34-2 World Cup final demolition against Australia at Old Trafford in December last year.
In front of almost 75,000 supporters, the Kangaroos scored five tries in one of the worst displays from the Kiwis in recent times. The NZRL is also investigating whether players misused prescription drugs - combining sleeping pills with energy drinks - during the World Cup campaign.
Kearney's contract ended after that tournament and, while the Brisbane Broncos assistant coach has indicated he will re-apply for his position, the NZRL is clearly after a change of direction.
"Stephen has done a great job with the Kiwis, but this is a chance for us to test the market and see who else puts their hand up for the role," NZRL chief executive Phil Holden said.
"We have a big year in prospect and want a strong build-up towards what may well be a 2017 World Cup on home soil."
Applications for the Kiwis coaching position close in 10 days on January 31, with a short list of candidates to be interviewed in early February and a recommendation made to the NZRL board mid-month.
Former Kiwis David Kidwell, currently the Wests Tigers assistant coach, and Richie Blackmore have been linked to the role, while former Warriors now Penrith Panthers coach Ivan Clearly could be in the mix.
The six-man selection panel consists of Holden, three NZRL board members - chairman Scott Carter, former Kiwis player Iva Ropati and former Kiwis manager Ray Haffenden - high performance manager Tony Iro, and High Performance Sport NZ coaching consultant and world champion Black Sox softball coach Eddie Kohlhase.
"What's driving this from our point of view is the Anzac test," Holden said. "We're trying to create as much time as we can to prepare for that first challenge of the year."
The appointment process will take place in parallel with a review of the Kiwis' World Cup campaign, conducted under a template provided by High Performance Sport New Zealand and due for completion in early February.
"Obviously, there were things we did really well and other things we need to improve on to reclaim the World Cup next time round," Holden said.
"We wanted this process to be as robust as possible to help us get the right coach in place and begin our long-term preparations for 2017."
Wouldn't hurt if it was another coach and there's no reason Kearney can't come back into the fold at a later date (assuming he wouldn't accept being an assistant if he's replaced by another coach).
Good move by the NZRL - however it pans out with Kearney. The only negative result would be if the NZRL don't get at least two envelopes with an "I Wanna Be The Kiwis Coach" letter stuffed in it before January 31...
Does anyone have exact figures of Steve Kearney's overall win loss record as kiwi's coach from 2008 to 2013?
as far as i can tell its 17 wins 1 draw 14 loses (including warm up games against cook islands 2013, Samoa 2010 and Tonga 2009)
Record against Australia was 2 wins 1 draw 12 loses
Record against England was 4 wins 2 loses
how does this compare to the other kiwi coaches in more recent time like brian Mclennan, Frank Endacott, Graham Lowe, Daniel Anderson, Bob Bailey, Tank gordon. I think Mclennan, Endacott and Lowe both had 2 wins against against australia, bob bailey 1 win one draw, anderson 1 win 1 draw and tank gordon 1 win.
no doubt Kearney better Kiwi's coach than Howie Tamati, Gary Freeman and gary kemble lol!but if his 2 wins against Australia same as Mclennan, Endacott and Lowe and those 3 had the advantage over England/GB as well i dont think Endacott ever lost to englang/GB, mclennan lost twice to england/GB and Lowe only lost once to england/GB with one draw but lowe lost to PNG once tho!
i'd like to see who has the better overall coaching record for the kiwi's out of kearney, mclennan and Endacott...
I am surprised this doesn't happen more often I can only think of Bennett with QLD, Gould with NSW and Fulton with Manly.