Wayne Bennett, the supercoach of the NRL and The Dolphins, has revealed he is interested in replacing Michael Maguire as the new head coach of the New Zealand Kiwis.

Days after Maguire was confirmed as the new coach of the NSW Blues for the 2024 State of Origin series (and more series down the track), Bennett emerged as the lead candidate to replace him and has since declared his interest in the role.

The stunning admission means that the seven-time premiership-winning coach could provide New Zealand the opportunity to be coached by one of the greatest of all time.

It is understood that Bennet will also have to contend with former New Zealand captains Nathan Cayless and Stacey Jones for the role. The latter of whom has worked as an assistant coach under Maguire.

“I'm not retired yet so if the Kiwis are interested, I'm certainly open to it,” Bennett, told News Corp.

“I've got a history with New Zealand. I was involved with the All Golds team (in 2007), that was a great experience, we had a tour of England and I was coach of the team.

“I've also worked with Steve Kearney (former Kiwis coach) when he was coaching the Kiwis and they won the World Cup in 2008 with Steve in charge.

“I have great affection for the Kiwis, I coach several of their guys at the Dolphins in the (Jesse and Kenny) Bromwich boys and Jamayne Isaako.

“The door is certainly open for me. If it's an option for the New Zealand Rugby League, they know where to find me.”

State of Origin Game 3
SYDNEY - JUNE 26: Queensland coach Wayne Bennett congratulates his players after they defended the series during game 3 of the NRL State of Origin series between the NSW Blues and the Queensland Maroons held at Stadium Australia, Sydney, Australia on June 26, 2002. The game ended 18-18, the Maroons retain the trophy. (Photo: Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

During his 36-year coaching career, Bennett has previously coached at the international level for Australia and England, as well as the Kiwis in 2007.

Unfortunately, his tenure for New Zealand only saw him win two out of six games with a winning percentage of 33 per cent - a fact that many would easily forget.

He coached the Kangaroos in two separate stints - 1998 and 2004-05 - and won 12 out of a possible 16 games. His time as England's coach saw him with a winning percentage of 67 per cent after taking control of the team from 2016-20.

“I have a great regard for international rugby league,” Bennett added.

“I've always given back to that arena. The reason I was part of the 2008 World Cup with New Zealand (as an assistant)... the media were bagging the international game and saying it was just a walk-over for Australia.

“That's why I got involved. I didn't want to stand there and watch international league die, I thought let's give this a shot and it was a great tournament for the Kiwis.

“With the Samoans and Tongans on the rise, there's a lot more interest, there's a lot more to be done, so the international game is heading in the right direction now.

"I don't know what the end of the year (2024) holds for me but I'll be finishing up as head coach of the Dolphins, so I'll be unemployed and looking at all my options.”

CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND - NOVEMBER 09: Captain Benji Marshall of the Kiwis (C) and his team mates perform the Haka prior to the Rugby League Test match between the New Zealand Kiwis and the Great Britain Rugby League Lions at Orangetheory Stadium on November 09, 2019 in Christchurch, New Zealand. (Photo by Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images)

New Zealand Rugby League CEO Greg Peters indicated to the publication that the national team's board were prepared to look at every avenue for their next coach and undergo a comprehensive process.

This includes that all candidates will be eligible, and that only appointing Kiwi-born coaches wasn't part of the board's criteria.

“We will have a thorough and comprehensive process to cast the net as wide as we can and see who we can flush out through that process,” Peters said.

“Because we don't play until October, there's not a huge rush on this, so we won't be rushed.

“We'll make the right decision in time and I would anticipate that we'd like to see something settled early next year.

“Our priority is to have the best coach. And that should always be the foremost aim. Yes, we'd love to have a Kiwi coach, no doubt about it.

“But you'd also like a coach who has coached at the highest level and that's the challenge because we're not inundated with Kiwis throughout the NRL that have got head coaching positions.”