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Stephen Kearney re-appointed as Kiwis coach

Last updated 12:37 21/02/2014
Stephen Kearney
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REAPPOINTED: As widely expected, Stephen Kearney has been reappointed to his role as Kiwis coach.

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Former national skipper Stephen Kearney has been officially re-appointed as the Kiwis coach for at least two more seasons.

Kearney, who is also the Broncos assistant, coached the national league side for seven years, taking them to two World Cup finals, and has been signed up until the end of 2015, with a right of renewal through the next World Cup.

''Stephen was the strongest candidate, and presented his vision for the Kiwis strongly and passionately,'' NZRL chief executive Phil Holden.

''He really impressed the panel and demonstrated that he was the right man for the job.

''We've invested heavily in Stephen's development at this level and, generally, we feel he's elevated the programme significantly since taking over.

''We expect him to continue that progress and a two-year term will give us a chance to see how we're tracking towards the next tournament, while also allowing us to put some focused resource and support around him to ensure that he succeeds.''

Under Kearney's watch, the Kiwis won the 2008 World Cup - but under performed in the final of last year's Northern Hemisphere event, demolished 34-2 by Australia in Manchester.

During the World Cup, several players got in hot water for mixing sleeping pills and energy drinks as a recovery practice.

In their post campaign review, the NZRL said the practice did not contribute to the team's performance in the final."We're very concerned at the health risks involved in this practice and the players involved probably aren't even aware of the risk they are putting themselves at," Holden said.

"Their behavior certainly divided the group and, in some cases, probably affected how individual players recovered from games, so it was definitely a factor.

"But we can't in, all honesty, say it cost us the World Cup title - that would be disrespectful to an Australian side that deserve to rank among the all-time greats."

The NRL has set up a taskforce on the issue, with NZRL represented by high performance manager Tony Iro. Clubs are now considering greater controls over the issue of sleeping pills to players.

The Kiwis next international is the annual Anzac test against Australia in Sydney on May 2.

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- Fairfax Media

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