Embattled Kiwis boss Stephen Kearney has vowed to stay on as the national coach despite ongoing struggles with his NRL club side Parramatta.
It was reported on Friday before the Kiwis lost the Anzac test at
Eden Park to Australia 20-12 that Kearney would consider stepping down
as New Zealand coach if he believed the job was affecting his role in
charge of the Eels.
Kearney isn't off contract with the New Zealand Rugby League until
after the World Cup next year but has discussed his dual roles with Eels
officials in recent weeks.
The Eels have won just one of their first seven games this season
and while Kearney has the green light to continue on in the Kiwis job at
the moment, if things get worse that could change.
On Friday night after the test, he declared his involvement with the
Kiwis was far from over and was adamant he'd be in the coaches' box on
October 14 this year when the sides meet in an end-of-year match.
"I'm totally committed to the Kiwis, 100 per cent," Kearney said.
Kearney said thanks to the help of NZRL staff, the Kiwis job didn't impact on his ability to coach the Eels.
"Everything sort of runs itself anyway and Kempy (Kiwis manager Tony
Kemp) does a good job of organising stuff when I'm not around," he
"I just have to roll into camp and it's pretty seamless really."
In just his second year as a first-grade coach, Kearney's Eels are firmly planted at the foot of the competition ladder.
He admitted he was under pressure to find an answer for the legions
of unhappy Parramatta fans but said there was light at the end of the
"I'll be honest – it's been a real challenge, the last month or two months," Kearney said.
"For me, it's really tested me and I've just got to keep persevering
and keep working through it. I'm sure it will come right."
Despite another loss in the Anzac test – his fourth since taking
charge of the Kiwis in 2008 – Kearney has had a number of standout
successes as the New Zealand coach.
Four years ago, the Kiwis caused a major upset in beating the
Kangaroos in the World Cup final and in 2010, went on to win the Four
His New Zealand players are aware of the suggestions his Kiwis role
may be the first to be surrendered if the Eels continue to struggle and
have rallied in support of him.
"I hope he doesn't go anywhere to be honest," hooker Issac Luke said.
"He's had an influence on all of our young fellas. Obviously he has to do what he to do, but we're behind him 100 per cent."
Kiwis vice captain Adam Blair said New Zealand's senior leadership
group intended to continue working with Kearney to help make his New
Zealand job that little bit easier.
"He's shown what he can do with the Kiwis and I personally think he's a great coach," Blair said.
"I know he's got the backing of all the Kiwi boys. Obviously there's
a group of senior players in the Kiwis that support him and we try to
take a bit of pressure off when it comes to times like these with trying
to work out game plans.
"All the boys have got his back and he's still got a future with the
Kiwis. I hope he stays around for a long time. He's a bloke who wants