Former Kiwis coach Brian McClennan has taken his name out of the running for the vacant role of coaching the national rugby league team - but believes whoever takes up the challenge needs to be a New Zealander.
Stephen Kearney's contract as Kiwis coach ran out after New Zealand were embarrassed 34-2 by Australia in the Rugby League World Cup final in Manchester last week, and is yet to decide whether he will re-apply for the role.
McClennan coached New Zealand 22 times between 2005 and 2007, recording eight test wins while in charge and leading the Kiwis to the Three Nations crown in 2005.
However, the former Warriors coach, who also coached Leeds to Super League titles in 2008 and 2009, isn't interested in the role.
"I've run my race - I'm not interested," McClennan told Fairfax Media.
Kearney, who has coached the Kiwis since 2008, must be given time to consider his options McClennan said, before adding that whoever follows the Broncos assistant coach needs to be a Kiwi.
"First and foremost, Stephen deserves the respect of being able to sit down and reflect on whether he wants to carry on forward," McClennan said.
"The fact of the matter is he has been the only coach of a New Zealand team to win a World Cup and Four Nations. Give him some time, and let him work out what he wants to do.
"We don't have a lot of New Zealand coaches, in the game [at the moment]. The game is getting more and more professional each year, too.
"There's been people crying out for this and that - and at times like this, you've got to take stock and think things over rationally. But I believe it should be a New Zealand coach."
McClennan, who was hugely impressed by the impact star Roosters back rower Sonny Bill Williams has made on the Kiwis over the last six weeks, said the Kiwis seemed to lack "conditioning" during the World Cup.
The former Kiwis coach admitted an early lack of possession made it difficult for New Zealand to build a foundation to attack from in the Old Trafford final.
"In some ways with the Kiwis, it was almost like they lost a bit of conditioning," he said.
"They looked really lethargic against England - you just watch the shape off the ball and who is moving.
"I understand in the final that 60 per cent possession to 40 - it just sucks juice out of you. Not only that, they were starting sets off their own line.
"You can't sustain it. That's actually what we were supposed to do to them."
- © Fairfax NZ News