Stephen Kearney has been re-appointed as head coach of the New Zealand national team.
The 41-year-old, who guided the Kiwis to World Cup glory in 2008, was out of contract at the end of 2013 and was thus forced to re-apply for the post, which was opened up to anyone interested.
He was named as one of four shortlisted candidates – alongside former Kiwi players David Kidwell and Richie Blackmore, and Australian Dewsbury Rams coach Glenn Morrison – and was favourite to be re-hired.
Indeed, Morrison, speaking last week while still part of the process, said: “I think he [Kearney] has done a good job there, he’s got the respect of the players, he’s done well. Obviously they didn’t win the World Cup but they made it to the final, I think he’d be the front-runner to get the job again.”
It wasn’t all plain sailing, though – the New Zealand board were said to be concerned over Kearney’s poor record against the Australians. They’ve won just twice in 15 match-ups since Kearney took the helm in 2008, and essentially surrendered the World Cup to them in last year’s final.
However, the players were reportedly completely behind his reappointment.
There are suggestions Kidwell was the strongest of the remaining candidates and will be offered an assistant coaching position with the Kiwis.