New Kiwis coach Maguire wants best players

Daniel Gilhooly
Michael Maguire has been confirmed as coach of the New Zealand rugby league team

New Kiwis coach Michael Maguire will quickly seek out Jason Taumalolo, Jesse Bromwich and Kevin Proctor as part of his bid to build the strongest possible team.

Former South Sydney Rabbitohs mentor Maguire confirmed on Thursday he had signed a four-year New Zealand Rugby League deal through to the 2021 Rugby League World Cup in England.

He is still free to consider NRL club coaching opportunities but insists they can't interfere with his international duties.

Maguire takes charge of a Kiwis team at a low ebb following the disastrous quarter-final exit from the Rugby League World Cup.

Predecessor David Kidwell oversaw just three wins from 10 Tests but Maguire says there is scope to do significantly better given the vast player resources that sprout from New Zealand.

His first priority is bringing together the premier players.

He said key forwards Bromwich and Proctor will be considered again after the pair were barred from the World Cup by Kidwell following their role in a cocaine scandal after last year's Anzac Test in Canberra.

Maguire knows both players from his time as an assistant coach at Melbourne Storm a decade ago.

"They're two very impressive young men. Unfortunately they made a mistake," Maguire said.

"As young men and girls in our society, we learn by our mistakes and it's about taking that forward now.

"I know they've done a lot of work since that time in the community and around young people."

A chat also awaits with Taumalolo and other leading players who deserted the Kiwis jersey last year to represent Pacific island nations at the World Cup.

North Queensland Cowboys powerhouse Taumalolo led a mini revolution when chose to represent Tonga, shredding some the best talent from Kidwell's grasp.

Maguire said he has already discussed the issue with the Kiwis selectors and agrees Taumalolo and others should be made aware in no uncertain terms they are welcome back.

Maguire's understanding is he will have full access to players from all NRL clubs for the Test against England in Denver on June 23.

The 44-year-old was delighted to secure what will be his first taste of international football, having found he had missed coaching more than expected over the last 18 months.

Selection panel convener and former Kiwis captain Dean Bell said Maguire stood out "head and shoulders" above three other candidates interviewed.

That group is believed to have comprised fellow-Australians Laurie Daley, Des Hasler and Geoff Toovey.

Bell said Maguire had proven ability, with the standout moment coming when the Rabbitohs' premiership drought ended in 2014.

A six-season stint in Redfern petered out results-wise and Maguire was sacked in 2017.

Maguire's first head coaching role proved successful in England, when Wigan won the 2010 Super League and 2011 Challenge Cup.

HOW THE LATEST KIWIS COACHES HAVE FARED

David Kidwell (2016-17) 3 wins, 1 draw, 6 losses

Stephen Kearney (2008-16), 23, 1, 18

Gary Kemble (2007) 1, 0, 4

Brian McClennan (2005-7) 5, 0, 7

Daniel Anderson (2003-5) 1, 1, 6

Gary Freeman (2001-2) 1, 0, 2

Frank Endacott (1994-2000) 22, 2, 11

Howie Tamati (1992-93) 4, 1, 6