The Kiwi Ferns have parted ways with former coach Alan Jackson just months out from the 2017 Women’s Rugby League World Cup in Australia.
Former Junior Kiwis coach Tony Benson has been appointed to the role, following a review of the recent NRL Auckland Nines campaign which identified the need to take planning and preparation to the next level.
With the bulk of the Kiwi Ferns squad based in the greater Auckland area, the need for a locally based coach, along with other changes in available coaching resource meant Taranaki based Alan Jackson was unable to continue in the role.
In appointing Tony Benson as the new head coach, NZRL High Performance Manager Brent Gemmell said it was about keeping pace with developments in Australia and England.
“We are aware that both Australia and England have placed a new emphasis on the women’s game and are preparing strongly for the November tournament. With the women’s final being played as the curtain raiser to the men’s final, we are determined to support our Ferns to be as well prepared as possible to stake a claim for the title,” Gemmell said.
Benson’s coaching experience includes stints in the NZRL Bartercard Cup, while he also worked with the Junior Kiwis in 2003-2005 before he moving to Great Britain to pursue professional coaching opportunities.
Benson spent time with clubs such as the Leigh Centurions, London Skolars, Oldham RLFC in addition to international experience with Ireland.
“After 20 years of coaching I’m at a point in my career where I feel comfortable and confident in my coaching methods – this will enable me to help the Kiwi Ferns win games,” Benson said.
“I see huge potential in the women and I’ve worked closely with New Zealand Rugby League to identify key areas we need to improve on.
“While my coaching in the UK has been focused around the men’s game, my expectations and benchmarks for the women will be no different.”
Benson has already started working with the women to ensure their conditioning is at its best for the May Test.
“The previous coaching staff have done a fantastic job with the women and I’m looking forward to picking up from where they left off so we can continue improving their game.”
The Kiwi Ferns assembled on Sunday March 5 to start their training for the 2017 ANZAC Test.
(Main photo: photosport.nz).