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.
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.
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.