As the NRL's coaching mayhem went through different levels of bonkers, it was hard not to hope that Michael Maguire stayed out of the conversation. As coach of Aotearoa Kiwis, Maguire is now also the coach of Wests Tigers and given what Kiwis fans have endured over the past two years, seeing Maguire in demand and then get another gig was a wee bit downbuzz.
'No Madge, we need you, you can only coach the Kiwis, that's all you need in your life'.
When Maguire was appointed coach of Aotearoa, there was however an understanding that NZRL would be all good with Maguire taking up an NRL opportunity. This would have been a key point in Maguire wanting to coach Aotearoa and if he wasn't afforded that flexibility, he would have probably kicked back and waited for the NRL to come calling.
Push aside any selfishness and you'll end up in a place of contentment with Maguire's dual roles. For a while there it felt like the priority from NZRL was to have a coach solely coaching the Kiwis and staying clear of any NRL duties, as Australia do with Mal Meninga. That's a unique scenario though and Meninga is a specialist representative coach, a luxury which NZRL don't have and in allowing Maguire to hold down an NRL job parallel to his Kiwis job, could have some low key benefits.
Remember that Wayne Bennett is coaching England as Brisbane Broncos/South Sydney Rabbitohs coach. Also remember that Stephen Kearney was an assistant coach to Bennett at the Broncos, when he was working as Kiwis coach. Tonga's coach Kristian Woolf has coached Tonga while being the coach of the Townsville Blackhawks in Queensland's reserve grade comp and is now starting as an assistant coach with Newcastle Knights. As of now, both England and Tonga have coaches who are have full-time jobs in the NRL, as does Maguire.
As coach of the Tigers, Maguire will obviously be heavily involved in NRL life and this will allow Maguire to oversee the Kiwis roster from up close. This isn't so much about the Tigers players, even though the Tigers boasted the biggest #KiwiNRL crew last season as the likes of Ben Matulino and Russell Packer have retired from international duty; Maguire will however be working closely with Benji Marshall and someone like Michael Chee Kam had his best season in 2018 and could enjoy a few Kiwis favours with Maguire involved with the Tigers.
Esan Marsters is the one player who all of this benefits the most as he is set for a long Kiwis tenure at centre, as well as with the Tigers. Then we have Elijah Taylor, who has been unable to churn out consistent NRL minutes via injury and as long as he's available, could benefit from Maguire's arrival.
However, Maguire will enjoy a fresh perspective on Kiwis players at other NRL clubs. This will offer Maguire immense clarity in a player's strengths and weaknesses, which will then flow into the Kiwis as Maguire can build a game plan around what each player offers. Maguire was based in Australia prior to getting the Tigers job, so not much will change there and he will still enjoy regular meetings with various Kiwis players. Remember that Maguire's communication with Kiwis players leading up to the spring internationals was appreciated by numerous players and that transparency should remain, perhaps even increase.
There are also signs that Maguire is eager to empower those around him, which will build a pool of footy brains who can all contribute. Maguire currently has Ben Gardiner and Stacey Jones as his assistant coaches; Gardiner worked with Maguire at the Rabbitohs but started under David Kidwell and Jones is a Warriors assistant coach. Nathan Cayless was also involved for the Denver Test and with good people around Maguire, who will only build greater chemistry and understanding, the burden of coaching the Kiwis will decrease.
Maguire's name was always mentioned in the various vacant coaching roles, making this a reality that Kiwis fans couldn't ignore. Although it may seem like a weird situation, it's nothing different to other international teams and both parties involved knew that this was a likely scenario, ensuring that the right coaching foundations have been laid down for the Kiwis.
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Peace and love 27.