By DOUG THOMSON
NEW ZEALAND coach Michael Maguire is back in the club arena after agreeing to return to Canberra Raiders, where his Rugby League career began.
The 48-year-old Australian and former Wigan team chief has penned a two-year contract as the club’s senior NRL consultant to coach Ricky Stuart.
Maguire, who was axed by Wests Tigers in June after three-and-a-half years at the reins, will link up with Canberra after the World Cup.
Former back Maguire spent six years with the Raiders in two spells either side of a stint with Adelaide Rams.
He later became Canberra’s strength and conditioning chief and worked his way through the coaching ranks to become right-hand man to Matthew Elliott.
Maguire worked under Craig Bellamy at Melbourne Storm before getting the Wigan job in succession to Brian Noble in October 2009.
He guided the Warriors to a first Super League title since 1998 in his first season, then the Challenge Cup in 2011.
South Sydney Rabbitohs put him in charge ahead of the 2012 campaign, and he spent six years at the helm.
In 2014, the Bunnies claimed their first league title since 1971, then flew to England to beat St Helens 39-0 in the World Club Challenge.
Maguire took the Wests job ahead of the 2019 season, but like several coaches before him, struggled to restore the club’s fortunes.
He has overseen New Zealand since 2018, when he replaced David Kidwell in the wake of a disappointing 2017 World Cup campaign.
Stuart believes the appointment of Maguire is a coup for Canberra, who squeezed into this year’s NRL play-offs in eighth place.
“Michael is a wonderful signing for our club and brings valuable experience and knowledge to the role,” he said.
“He has a wonderful record as a coach at all levels of the game and we’re very fortunate to be able to secure someone of his calibre.
“I can’t wait to work with him and have him alongside our coaching staff and playing group.”
By DOUG THOMSON