The postmortem has begun on the failure of New Zealand’s national team to make the semi-finals.
It’s the first time since 1995 when the expanded World Cup format was introduced that the Kiwis have failed to qualify for the final four.
For coach David Kidwell it’s the beginning of the end with back to back losses to Tonga and Fiji set to end his two-year tenure as national coach. It was a risk the New Zealand rugby league administrators took heading into this tournament given Kidwell had not coached at a senior level before. A risk that the hierarchy need to be accountable for.
Whilst Kidwell will be the focal point of the review, some players should not escape without a red line through their name marked ‘never to play for New Zealand again’.
Simon Mannering has been an excellent servant for the Kiwis having played 43 tests in twelve seasons but has struggled this tournament to stand out.
The same goes for Adam Blair who lacked maturity off field with his comments about the defection of Jason Taumalolo to Tonga, failing to let his talking match his actions on-field.
A question mark also hangs over Jared Waerea-Hargreaves even though he was the most effective forward in their loss to Fiji, the intimidation factor has disappeared from his game.
But it’s the New Zealand Warriors type of culture which is worrying – the effort is there when the players are switched on.
Shaun Johnson was nowhere to be seen in the big matches with some of his kicking options in the quarter-final nothing less than park football quality. You get the feeling how good Roger Tuivasa-Sheck is, he too has fallen victim to the Warriors curse.
When New Zealand appoint their next coach they need to be smart and find a Brad Fittler-like replacement. Fittler showed with Lebanon that a big of passion and a tiny bit of talent went a long way.
The culture created by the national side needs to be turned around quick smart to avoid further embarrassment at the top level.
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