Cleary stands down as Kiwis assistant coach
Penrith Panthers coach Ivan Cleary will not continue his role as assistant coach to the Kiwis.
The New Zealand national side, coached by Stephen Kearney, will have two assistant coaches this year, however, Cleary's commitments to the Panthers mean he will not be part of the setup.
In a newsletter posted on the New Zealand Rugby League's website today, high performance manager Tony Iro confirmed they were looking for Cleary's replacement.
Despite a disappointing result in the World Cup final, Cleary was a popular figure in the Kiwis setup and formed a good partnership with Kearney. Straight after the 34-2 loss to the Kangaroos last December, Cleary spoke of how much he'd enjoyed the experience of working with the national side and was keen to do it again.
"I would love to [be involved again]," the former Warriors coach said at the time.
"Obviously with my role with the Panthers it's going to come down to whether I have the time. The club were good enough to let me come to this one. Whether that's the case again, and if I get the opportunity, we will just have to wait and see.
"I am really grateful to have had the opportunity. For me, it's been awesome. It was disappointing [in the final] but I'm sure looking back there's plenty to learn from it all."
The new assistant coaches are expected to be named soon with David Kidwell, who was on the shortlist for the top job when it was advertised earlier this year, one of the favourites to land a role.
The Kiwis' first game this year is the Anzac Test on May 2 followed by the Four Nations at the end of the year, the fixtures of which are yet to be announced.