There might be hope yet for Kiwis coach David Kidwell, with a former Great Britain coach urging the New Zealand Rugby League to think long and hard before making wholesale coaching changes. (Photo: NRLPhotos).
As a coach Brian Noble experienced huge success with the Bradford Bulls in the mid-2000s, winning three Super League titles and three World Club Challenges, while he also spent 14 games in charge of Great Britain.
After watching all of New Zealand’s games in their failed 2017 Rugby League World Cup campaign, Noble backed Kidwell to turn things around if given the chance.
“David Kidwell knows his stuff, he will know as much as anybody else,” Noble said.
“Clearly there has been a little bit of an upset in the way of the loss to Fiji and the loss to Tonga, but sometimes you need these things as a wake up call, and it might just be that David has asked for a lot of things he hasn’t been given, and maybe now it’s time to give them to him.
“It’s a time for smart thinking… this little slip will be a good thing for them if they respond the right way.”
Noble also offered support to the Kiwis’ senior players, many of whom are nearing the end of their international careers, believing they hold the key to New Zealand returning to the type of form which saw them ranked No.1 in the world in 2016.
Among the Kiwis’ better performers at the World Cup was the tireless Simon Mannering, 30, and 32-year-old playmaker Thomas Leuluai, who was strangely dropped for the quarter-final loss against Fiji.
“It’s easy to throw the baby out with the bathwater and they had a load of great young players I thought at this tournament, but it’s about balance and I have never been one to throw away your best players just on the back of a few bad results,” Noble said.
“They have had a lot of positives in the last 10 years have New Zealand Rugby League, they had been to every World Cup final and pretty much every Four Nations final.
“[Those players] can still provide momentum and guidance, and remember they have got the memory of the last 10 years… for me that would be the wrong answer [getting rid of them].
“You have to pick form players, and if they happen to have a bruised birth certificate you have still got to go with them.”