July 20, 2024

Both the Warriors’ head coach and captain have both made it clear who they want to see as the next Kiwis coach. Andrew Webster and Tohu Harris backed club legend Stacey Jones for the role, despite the interest of a huge coaching name during the week.

The guy for me is Stacey Jones,” Webster told media on Thursday.

“I work with him every day, he teaches me things… he knows when less is more. They’re the best players in the world, so he knows when to step in and impose himself on that group. And culturally, he’s worn that jersey, so he can walk in their footsteps.”

Webster dismissed any talk of himself taking up the Kiwis role.

“I haven’t been asked and I certainly don’t want to do it. That’s not out of disrespect to the Kiwis job, I’ve got my hands full.”

Meanwhile, Harris said he would “love to see Stacey throw his name in the hat and have a crack”.

“I think it’s a role he’d be really good for.”

Jones played 48 tests for the Kiwis and 261 times for the Warriors, including taking them to a grand final in 2002. If does put his hand up, he will be up against Brisbane, Queensland and international legend Wayne Bennett, who formally announced his intention to take over the Kiwis role.

Bennett has coached the Kangaroos, England and Great Britain at international level, and had a role with the Kiwis in their remarkable 2008 Rugby League World Cup win.

He’s obviously been around a very long time,” said Harris. “He’s got a lot of experience, but it’s a wait and see.”

The Kiwis head coaching role is vacant after a messy saga late last year, which saw Michael Maguire effectively shown the door despite guiding the side to big wins against 2022 World Cup finalists Toa Samoa and Australia.

The 30-0 victory over the Kangaroos in Hamilton set a new record for the Kiwis against their biggest rival, however Maguire’s acceptance of the vacant New South Wales Origin coaching job led the NZRL to decide that two could not go into one.

Given Bennett’s current status as Dolphins coach and Jones’ role as an assistant with the Warriors, their prospective employer may have to bend the precedent they have set for themselves already.

Harris made it clear that pulling on a Kiwis jersey again was not in his immediate plans.

“To be honest I haven’t put much thought into that,” he said. “I feel like I’d be confident enough to play in those games and I’d be able to perform… but my focus is on the Warriors and us trying to be better than we were last year.”

Meanwhile, Webster was happy with the way Warriors preseason training was tracking, as they build towards two trial games this month and the 2024 NRL season kicking off in March.

“We know our language, we know the way we want to play… the mindset has got to be the same: win each day, win the next week, win the next challenge and everything will take care of itself.”

The Warriors open their season with a home game at Go Media Mt Smart Stadium against the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks on 8 March.

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