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Relaxing Kiwi’s coach eligibility rule should be short term

Relaxing Kiwi’s coach eligibility rule should be short term only

Auckland Rugby League supports New Zealand Rugby League's commitment to delivering better outcomes for the game, including moves to review the Kiwis Coach Eligibility Rule, but believes that this should only be a temporary measure to address the lack of depth in coaching stock.

The Auckland Rugby League Board and Executive – which is the largest governing district body in the country with over *60% of New Zealand's Rugby League playing numbers – believes that the decision to open eligibility is another symptom that not enough is happening in the grassroots development of the game.

ARL General Manager Greg Whaiapu said, "Changing the rule to allow for international coaches to apply for the job as Kiwis coach feels like a step backwards. It is not something that our union counterparts, the New Zealand Rugby Football Union, would ever contemplate. While we can't at the moment emulate their success, it still feels like we're surrendering part of our mana.

"However, we acknowledge that the NZRL may feel like it has no choice and that the country will benefit from overseas talent in the coaching stocks.

"We understand the need but point to the fact that this just further emphasises the state of neglect at a grassroots level, and in particular, the price we are paying for the lack of a semi-professional competition."

Mr Whaiapu said he is hopeful that the review of the World Cup campaign does more to address how the issues may be fixed from the bottom up, rather than window dressing at head coach level.

“This eligibility rule recommendation from the review panel is worrying because it suggests there may be some justification for our concerns that the review does not go far enough to address the issues confronting rugby league overall in New Zealand.

“We’re hoping for something more substantive than just a ‘change the coach’ call,” he said.

Earlier this year the ARL called on the review panel to be broadened to address the devastating effects of New Zealand rugby league’s player drain to Australia and other countries. In 2013, New Zealand lost 859 players to Australia; in 2015, 813; in 2014, 843 and 622 in 2016.

Auckland Rugby League renewed its call for the New Zealand rugby league community to unite and work together to explore initiatives that will help rebuild the game in our country.

Ends.

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