WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND - NOVEMBER 18: Roger Tuivasa-Sheck of the Kiwis look on in disappointment after losing the 2017 Rugby League World Cup Quarter Final match between New Zealand and Fiji at Wellington Regional Stadium on November 18, 2017 in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

Prior to the World Cup tournament starting the New Zealanders named a side that most considered underwhelming. Missing were Jason Taumalolo and Jesse Bromwich while Foran’s injury problems meant that the Kiwis would rely on largely untested options to partner Shaun Johnson in the halves.

Despite their talents, Takairangi, Beale and Whare were hardly going to form a centre combination to match those of the likes of Dugan/Chambers or Kata and Jennings.

That said, I don’t think anyone really believed that the Kiwis would fail to reach the tournament Semi Finals. Nothing short of a spot in the final would do for the Rugby League powerhouse.

Unfortunately, the campaign ended in tears as a try-less performance saw them lose their second straight game, and exit the tournament outside the final four.

As silly as this is going to sound, the New Zealand Rugby League really must look at this in a positive way. Now is the opportunity to undertake a complete overhaul of the team set up with a focus toward the next World Cup.

David Kidwell’s role as coach of the side is over. There is no way he can continue after the results ‘delivered’ during his reign. I’m surprised a statement hasn’t already been issued confirming as such. It may very well be released before this goes live.

Jason Taumalolo did not want to represent the New Zealanders in the World Cup. Whether or not this had anything to do with Kidwell being the coach is irrelevant, the fact remains that the nation’s best player did not want to represent the Kiwis.

Jesse Bromwich and Kevin Proctor were ruled out of the World Cup due to moments of madness after a test drubbing earlier in the year. Once again, as the coach, Kidwell needs to cop the blame for that. He should have an authority over the players where they would never risk not being able to represent their nation.

To place the blame squarely on a man who sat in the stands during the tournament is silly but the NZRL need a fresh start, and an experienced motivator as the coach is the first step that needs to be taken. Just who that is can be debated at another time, but it is not Kidwell.

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Bromwich will return to the side and likely regain the captaincy. Try as he obviously did, Adam Blair was unable to lead his side to glory. He was left red-faced after going public re his anger at Taumalolo playing for Tonga.

Taumalolo, perhaps motivated by the comments, tore the Kiwis apart last weekend. The last thing your pack needs is to face the world’s best forward having delivered him extra reason to take that extra run.

If Bromwich is overlooked, it is time to look for another option to lead the side. Joseph Tapine was the best Kiwi player in their four games. He’s still young, but the way he came back on after a knee injury yesterday to record the only line break for NZ to that point, that is inspirational.

The opinion was split yesterday on the role of Shaun Johnson. I can’t remember him running the ball. I’m almost certain he wasn’t tackled with the ball. Given he was the only half in the squad that is considered a lock to play first grade next year, he HAD to take on more responsibility.

That said, I can’t be the only fan who is sick of the ‘throw it to Johnson and hope’ game-plan? They made the last world cup final by the sin of their teeth on the back of a Johnson run in the final minute. I think he beat about four defenders before scoring. It was magic, but when is the last time a Kiwi player other than Johnson has done something like that to win a game?

The reliance on the Warriors star has to stop. Te Marie Martin looks the most likely to provide halves partner for Johnson going forward, but he most likely won’t play first grade for the Cowboys next year.

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Kodi Nikorima failed to stand up when needed last weekend or against Fiji but should become a far better player given he is the most likely to partner Anthon Milford for the Broncos next year.

Daniel Levi will develop, but he wasn’t even a lock for first choice number nine at the Knights for most of the season.

There is even a thought of Johnson moving on. Right now that may sound ridiculous as he is only 27 and could play in two more World Cups, but his role must change.

He needs to return to running the ball. He is most dangerous when doing so. At least tease it. He never threatened the line against Fiji. I kept waiting for the moment, but it never came.

RTS is another who must get more involved. He had one moment of brilliance in the quarter-final and looked to be headed for a match-winning try, but otherwise was very quiet.

Jordan Rapana was hardly sighted. I only remember him knocking the ball on when an attack looked likely and kicking the ball dead in the final moments. For one of the game’s premier wingers, that is not good enough.

I don’t know exactly what the answer is right now but there have to be massive changes. The NZRL will undergo an appraisal of the World Cup campaign and it will be scathing.

If there is not a huge change, there is a very real possibility that the Kiwis will slip down the pecking order. They’ve fallen below England, there is no doubt there anymore. I’d argue that Tonga is on equal pegging as the world’s third best side, and after the result, you wouldn’t be too crazy to say Fiji is in the discussion of the fourth best side.

If that game is played 100 times, the Kiwis win more likely than not, but given their standing, an exit in the quarter-finals is a disaster and must lead to a complete overhaul.


  1. It’s a conundrum. Re, the Bromwich/ Proctor issue, NZ made a statement about family values etc, but by doing so compromised the competitive level of their team.
    I can’t blame their thought process.

  2. Just like the Warriors, the Kiwi team needs to be blown up and rebuilt from scratch. Giving the captaincy to an overrated Blair who should not have even been in the squad was the first issue. They need to bring back Bennett into the coaching role, because he was the reason behind the team winning in 2008, not Kearney.

    Shaun Johnson is the most over rated player in all of league (with RTS not far behind). And like Benji, Johnson has had 1 brilliant year, a couple above average, and the rest he is a liability. The only time he has come close to winning a premiership is when Maloney was the key half on the team, not Johnson.

  3. Like I said…

    SSTID_1970 November 18, 2017 at 7:36 pm
    …That has to fall on the players and the coach and clearly there needs to be changes.

    SSTID_1970 November 18, 2017 at 9:28 pm
    …No doubt the kiwis will be at full strength again (and no doubt with a new coach) before the ANZAC Day test in 2018.

    Taumololo, Fusitu’a, Lolohea, Bromwich, Proctor, Luke, Foran, Hingano, Hurrell, Ma’u (practically a full team worth of talent missing). That leaves quite a hole to fill in all fairness. It also highlights the stark contrast in the lack of depth between the Australian and New Zealand sides.

    • Not to mention, they left Lewis Brown out of the side.

      Manly, let this be a lesson to you, and you should do everything possible to extend Brown’s contract for a “DCE deal”, because you need only look at the Kiwi’s slump to see what could happen if you let hi slip through your fingers.

        • Bahahahahaha the caped crusader walking into a trap!

          Good to see you back batman even if you just like to
          watch. 🦇🔭

        • Hey Eels,
          Ok you got me back there. I think he (Brown) may struggle for a spot this year with young Hoppa getting clearance. We shall see.

          Serious question, where do you see Will Smith fitting in this year? I thought he proved to be one of your best last year after being thrown into the team. Would love to see him with a full preseason under his belt and a starting spot. But with your loaded backline and if Buzz is correct Jayne is a done deal, I don’t see where he goes… Even on the bench I can’t see him getting a spot.
          What you reckon?

  4. They need a new coach. Kidwell was never going to taste success with the side when he was named, no FG experience was always going to hurt him. He wasn’t even an descent coach when coaching lower grades at the Tigers haha. They’re going to lose RTS to union, so I honestly don’t see another premier fullback after him in the pecking order which goes to show lack of depth. Kahu and Hiku aren’t exactly RTS material. I do think Mannerings and Blair’s days in the black and white are over. Also they should’ve never have dropped Luke. This would be my team going forward for next year:

    1. Lolohea
    2. Watene-Zelezniak
    3. Kahu
    4. Whare
    5. Rapana
    6. Foran
    7. Johnson
    8. Bromwich (C)
    9. Luke
    10. Taupau
    11. Tapine
    12. Proctor
    13. Taumalolo

    14. Harris
    15. Waerea-Hargreaves
    16. Packer
    17. Asofa-Solomona

    • As a kiwi myself, I think it’s pretty downright embarrassing how we played and I think everyone agree’s that a clean out is needed. I agree that Blair needs to go, but I’m sorry to say you’ve got the whole spine terribly wrong.
      Isaac Luke’s form does not warrant his selection, he’s turning 31 next year and his attitude in recent times can be likened to Adam Blair. I think the combination of Levi/ Nikorima will do at the moment.
      RTS was one of the kiwi’s best players this tournament, and looked very dangerous every time he got the ball. Leave him at fullback.
      Now it comes to the halves pairing. Lets be real right now, both Foran and Johnson are not the same quality ball players as they once were. In fact they are former shadows of themselves. With Foran, I think it is more a mental battle to get back to his best after the last 2 years of hell. With Johnson, I think he’s trying, he want’s to perform, but I think it’s pretty clear based on his club and representative form, he never recovered from his ankle injury. We need a new halves pairing, only problem is, who else is there? Lolohea and Martin really arn’t at the level they need to be in order to compete against the likes of Cronk and Maloney

    • My opinion for what is worth, a new coach for sure Cleary would be good , also Luke should never be selected even in the Warriors team ever since he left Souths he has got fat and slow Maguire pushed him all the way and Luke found a way to avoid the hard yards, but all those players missing did play a part , but not that much and Blair has captain , PLEASE, he is one of the games biggest grubs and not setting a good example, coach to blame there, anyway bring on the NRL everyone knows teams are making up the numbers for Aust to win, but in fairness this world cup has been excellent for other nations to show there potential and hopefully this will propel internationals to a better level.

      Still better than the AFL who play some hybrid stupid game with Ireland, so to call Aussie reps, or better still at the awards they announce the all Australian players at seasons end so they can tell their kids that they made the Aussie team but didn’t actually play anyone, go figure!!

      • Titans2012 Can’t leave Tuivasa-Sheck at Fullback when he’ll go union anyways. Build with Lolohea and also I thought the Levi/Nikorima combination would work but it didn’t.

        • disagree, as long as RTS is playing league he must be fullback for the Kiwis. He was just about the only one who looked like doing anything all tournament.

    • In what world should Johnson ever be considered for the warriors again let alone NZ he has lost any passion for the game. He may say otherwise but clearly not even being able to take the ball to the line more than once a game, actions speak louder than words. If Johnson started to hit the line again and stop being a ball pusher than I can see him once again becoming great but right now he has far from representing the warriors let alone the Kiwis….

  5. “since he (Luke) left Souths he has got fat and slow Maguire pushed him all the way and Luke found a way to avoid the hard yards”

    Wow! Don’t mince your words big boy! You are actually bullying “bully”, quite ironic actually. Fair point though but my take is different, perhaps a touch sentimental. Luke has a broken heart… I believe Issac wants to be a Rabbitoh still, he never wanted to leave. He was faced with an impossible choice though, and in the end family always wins as it always should. It still does not change the fact that Issac Luke bleeds cardinal and myrtle and always will. Perhaps he was a bit off his game in the end there before leaving Souths but the years of service he put in gives him a mulligan in this case. 😉

    Remember our old gag mate? “Take a mulligan on that one”. Good times! Good times!

    • penso, while Cleary would be an outstanding choice as coach for the kiwis he is now a full time NRL coach which I think makes him ineligible. Besides, I think NZ like to recruit from within and I thought that Tony Iro has been groomed for the position for some time? Perhaps the kiwi contingent on ZT might be better informed.

    • The warriors have a huge All Black shadow that blocks out the sun , on top of this they just don’t have anyone that could put there hand up as coach to turn things around , on the other hand take a look at Sydney clubs and I will use Manly as an example, Ridge , Iro , Inness, just the tip of a very big iceberg of talent on the big Ise that has helped my club to glory , NZ need a serious coach and they bombed out when letting Cleary go , but there’s hope , bias here Tooves , Des , are two unemployed coaches that could develop a long lasting culture , All is not lost if they look outside the box , but all could be lost if the fans give up ,

      • You raise a very serious point there MW47, for any club. If the fans give up all hope is lost! It is one of the key reasons why South Sydney is still in the NRL (along with a few key figures like George Piggins and a flood of supporters from all clubs that marched to bring South Sydney back from the dead).

        All clubs have to be focused on growing their supporter base and keeping their loyal supporters happy. Clearly there were examples where this was not the case with Manly when so many supporters, club and leagues club members felt disenfranchised when Toovey, Lyons and the old guard were fed to the wolves. The club has moved on since and Lyall Gorman coming on board as CEO is a step in a positive direction but the damage caused in dividing the club over this debacle cannot be overstated. There are signs of it daily on this very forum and Manly is not alone in this. There may yet be fallout for the Roosters and their fans if Pearce and Friend fly the coop!

      • “Tooves , Des , are two unemployed coaches that could develop a long lasting culture”

        And Madge “angry eagle”? Don’t forget about Madge. He would definitely be able to whip the Warrior boys into shape.

      • Absolutely, I’d even throw Neil Henry in that mix also , what’s certain is there’s plenty of talent , coin and support but no leadership at a coaching level , action is needed now it’s a mess ,

  6. Just to throw in my two cents, now that the Kiwi’s have hit rock bottom there is only one way up, I think the coach is the first thing that needs to change and looking outside of NZ is the only way to go, get away from the “bro culture” that is imbedded into the Kiwis, considering the majority of the players are from Australian based NRL teams that would be used to a structured environment. I think Cleary would be great for the Kiwis. My slightly out of the box Kiwis team is below:

    1. RTS
    2. Fusitu’a
    3. Kahu (kicking duties)
    4. Whare
    5. Rapana
    6. Foran
    7. Johnson
    8. Bromwich (captain)
    9. Luke
    10. Taupau or Asofoa-Solomana
    11. Harris
    12. Taumalolo
    13. Proctor or Taupau

    14. Asofoa- Solomana or Proctor
    15. Tapine
    16. Ma’u
    17. Liu

    I guess this hinges on the Tongan players wanting to return to playing for the Kiwis, and RTS sticking with League, I honestly cant see him going to union considering the depth in NZ Rugby it would be very difficult to crack the All Blacks, perhaps if he went for Wing over fullback but we will have to wait and see. I purposely moved Taumalolo to an edge, with having Taupau/Asofoa Solomana in the middle having Taumalolo creating havoc out on an edge without having their middle forwards out there to help try contain him would be very interesting, especially close to the line.

    The other variation I would run with would be starting, Asofoa Solomana at 10, Taupau at 13 and moving Proctor to the interchange. I don’t think any opposition would enjoy the thought of having Taupau, Asofoa Solomana and Taumalolo all on the field at the same time, NZ could then play to contrasting games, one of big heavy runners who sap the energy of the defence followed by a very high tempo off the interchange in Tapine, Ma’a, Proctor and Liu.

    I know there are a lot of Luke haters out there currently, but I still think if he was behind that forward pack you would get the Luke of old. Fusatu;a deserves the starting wing spot for the Kiwis, he is a master finisher, great under the high ball both on attack and defence and has the size that Watene Zelezniak doesn’t have, Don’t get me wrong he has all the heart in the world but he’s size was highlighted in the world cup when he would get driven back over and over.

    Be keen to here your opinions on the above.

    • @ kiwi88

      Good call on the “bro culture” and so true. The last time the Warriors had any real success was under Ivan Cleary and it was a huge mistake for them to let both Cleary and Maloney escape IMO.

      RTS, Fusitu’a and Rapana are solid as your back 3. They are each dangerous and very capable of sharing the workload in hitups and runs from dummy half. All 3 are amongst the best finishers in the game and can turn a half opportunity into points. Fusitu’a (like the other two) has real X-factor and will go up a notch next year IMO on the confidence he has gained from his performance in the World Cup.

      I agree also that Luke is a must but I think that either Lolohea or Hingano should be included as both are showing just how good they can be when playing out of the shadow of Johnson. If he could regain his from at Manly then Foran is a must but IMO I think he is a spent force and either Lolohea or Hingano would contribute more.

      I think Kahu would work well with Fusitu’a and would create opportunities for him out wide. Whare I am not sold on. But the rest of the team looks good to me.

      Interesting move taking Taumalolo from the middle and playing him on an edge. He does a lot to tire forward packs in the middle third and help his team drive forward but out wide he would be lethal. His strength, speed, step and ability to offload and draw not just 2 but 3 defenders makes this a gamble I think would pay off. Good side but absolutely crucial to get back any Polynesian émigrés from Tonga and Samoa.

      • I can see why your not a fan of Whare, the other option there would be Takairangi, and in my opinion he had a very good world cup made even better by the fact he was uncapped coming into it. He would also add so size to the edge.

        any edge coming up against Taumalolo, Takairangi, Rapana, Johnson and RTS would have to be on the top of their defensive game.

        I agree that Lolohea and Hingano have been impressive for Tonga this world cup and did far better in the halves than I was expecting, but with the Warriors signing Blake Green for 2018 (about to be confirmed) and Lolohea moving to fullback for the Tigers (a horrible decision) that isn’t going to help them. I’m more interested in the development of Nikorima and Martin over the next year.

        I think most importantly the Kiwis need to start playing smart footie, and that’s what an Aussie or English coach would bring into the team, have different game plans for different players, ensure they know their roles, use the bench wisely, have it compliment the starting line up not just due the exact same thing. In the world cup Asofoa Solomana would swap for Taupau every time, two very similar players. use them both at the same time to run it straight, tire out the defenders, then sub both for two high energy runners to really put the foot down as the tire, then sub them of and put both back on to break the line.

        We played dumb and lost, time for a fresh start.

    • Again how on earth can you justify Johnson….

      In what world should Johnson ever be considered for the warriors again let alone NZ he has lost any passion for the game. He may say otherwise but clearly not even being able to take the ball to the line more than once a game, actions speak louder than words. If Johnson started to hit the line again and stop being a ball pusher than I can see him once again becoming great but right now he has far from representing the warriors let alone the Kiwis….

  7. who’s to say Taumalolo, Ma’u, Fusitua etc etc who turned their backs on the kiwis will not continue to do so?
    There’s no guarantee that they would come back into the fold and be a part of a “false” kiwi culture now that they have proved that Tonga sit above them (atm) in the pecking order.
    Lets face facts – the Kiwis for the last 20 years at least, have relied on the “imported” Pacific Islanders (Samoan, Tongan, etc) to bolster their side and make them competitive against the Kangaroos.
    Are we now seeing a changing in the guard where the Islander boys want to continue to represent their heritage rather than play for the Kiwis?
    The suspension of Bromwich and Proctor left a big hole in their team – their onfield leadership was left to (ahem) Blair and Mannering. The lack of form or injury/mental issues has hurt the kiwis big time.
    Can we put it down it all down to the coaching? I’m not so sure.
    We all know how strong the Roos are and the depth they have, but if they lost Smith, Cronk, Cordner, Klemmer, Morgan and co – would they not come back to the pack as well? So the loss of the likes of Foran, Taumalolo, Proctor, Bromwich and so on crippled them.
    Anyway – i like the new world order.

    • I did say in my post above that the line up above does hinge on the Tongan players returning to play for the Kiwi’s which is certainly no guarantee.

      By your words of “Imported” lets not forget that all three of them, Taumalolo, Ma’u and Fusitu’a were all born in NZ, but choose to represent the country of their parents birth which they are more than entitled to do and did wonders for the game in Tonga by doing so.

      Fortunately the ban for both Bromwich and Proctor is now over, which will hopefully see the Kiwi’s leadership grow again, Bromwich is far better suited to being the Captain than Blair.

      And this world cup wasn’t a total loss, the emergence of Tapine and Asofoa – Solomana in the Kiwis jersey is at least one thing we can take away. Tapine would get my vote as the top Kiwi performer from the world Cup.

  8. You refer to imports, they are not imports. These players have been coached in NZ, trained in NZ, Played in NZ and are legitimate Kiwis. I have no issue if they go and play for their culture heritage but you should never forget who helped make you what you are. Turning their back on the country that got them there I honestly felt betrayed because they had chosen the NZ jumper to play for the kiwis and the second they don;t like someone they jump ship. Pick a country and stick to it. Wheres the loyalty, they clearly have non.

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