Former Auckland Vulcans coach Richie Blackmore has put his hand up for the vacant Kiwis coaching role, saying that it is time for New Zealand Rugby League to move on from Stephen Kearney in the top job.
Sources have told Sunday News that Blackmore, a two-time Fox Memorial Cup-winning coach with Manurewa and Otahuhu, is a surprise candidate for the role, along with Kearney, who has coached the national team since 2008, and Tigers assistant coach David Kidwell.
Though talk connecting his name to the vacancy came as a surprise to Blackmore, the 25-test Kiwis veteran said he would "leap at the opportunity" to coach internationally.
"I think it would be a great opportunity," he told Sunday News. "I'd certainly help in bringing stability and focus.
"From a technical point of view, I feel very comfortable on how I view the game - and can deliver the understanding of what the game is all about to players. That's what I've built my success on as a coach."
As a coach, the one-time Warriors player co-managed the New Zealand Maori team in 2010, before going on to lead the Auckland Vulcans to an appearance in the New South Wales Cup final in 2011.
He also coached Manurewa to Fox Memorial Cup glory in 2005, and Otahuhu in 2010. This year, he is signed on to coach the Papakura Sea Eagles.
Blackmore has yet to feature on a coaching staff at the NRL level - but believes that doesn't matter, using former Kiwis coaches Brian McClennan, Frank Endacott and Graham Lowe as examples of New Zealanders who have had success after coaching domestically. "In the past, the vast majority of Kiwi coaches have not coached NRL," the 44-year-old said. "The notion that you have to have NRL experience to coach the Kiwis is people having the blinkers on. Kiwis can coach from within. Frank Endacott and Graham Lowe were successful Kiwis coaches."
Blackmore said it is time the NZRL gave someone else an opportunity to direct the Kiwis, after last year's embarrassing World Cup campaign under Kearney.
"That's the opinion from the majority - and it's certainly my opinion. It's time for a change.
"Unfortunately for Steve Kearney, in the time he has had there, and he's had a fair stint, I personally haven't seen a lot of changes in the ability to play the game better than when he first took over."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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