Let’s hope this guy has no sway over selecting the coach!!
Shane Richardson backs David Kidwell but warns Kiwis over player development
Last updated 14:43, November 25 2017
Kiwis captain Adam Blair
and coach David Kidwell face the media following the World Cup quarterfinal loss to Fiji.
Kiwis World Cup campaign manager Shane Richardson says the national team will continue to struggle unless New Zealand Rugby League invests more heavily in high performance and development pathways.
In a wide-ranging interview following the Kiwis' worst ever World Cup performance, Richardson also expressed support for coach David Kidwell after a build-up that went from one disaster to another.
General manager of football at South Sydney, Richardson was brought into to oversee the Kiwis' tournament operations but could not stop them from being dumped out of the quarterfinals by Fiji last week.
MATT KING/GETTY IMAGES
Kiwis World Cup campaign manager Shane Richardson believes David Kidwell should continue as Kiwis coach.
While his contract came to an end with their shock exit, the vastly experienced administrator will continue to assist with the NZRL's review of the forgettable campaign.
Despite a record of just three wins from 10 tests during Kidwell's tenure, one of Richardson's recommendations will be to persist with the former Kiwi as coach, who will have to re-apply for the role if indeed he wants to stay on.
"In my opinion David Kidwell's the guy," Richardson told Stuff.
"There were signs in that campaign of leadership and I know the players were really supportive of him. And when you consider some of the rubbish he had to go into it with, with players pulling out at the last moment, (assistant) coaches changing, the Jesse Bromwich incident, I think David did a lot to be able to put it together."
Richardson feels that where the NZRL have really been left behind is with their development and high performance systems.
Given they lost back-to-back tests to Tonga and Fiji, two heavily under-resourced tier-two nations, that may be hard to swallow for many frustrated Kiwi supporters.
But Richardson says Australia and England spent at least five times more on their respective campaigns than New Zealand.
Matching that is easier said than done for the NZRL, who struggle to generate revenue and exposure due a lack of tests in this country. Without a professional competition, they also rely heavily on NRL clubs to to develop players and coaches.
But unless improvement is made in this area, Richardson says the Kiwis will continue to be left behind.
"I know they're well aware of that. I've spent a lot of time talking to (Kiwis convenor of selectors) Tawera Nikau about it, but they need to do it sooner rather than later," Richardson said.
"No matter who the coach of the New Zealand side is they need to have better quality pathways and, more importantly, high performance background to what they're doing.
"The game's gone to another level. Australia and England have spent the money to go to another level, these other countries have proven it's gone to another level, NZ need to take it to another level as well.
"I think the NZRL understand but at the end of the day it's their decision about the coach and their decision about the structure."
Through his work with Cronulla, Penrith and Souths, Richardson has a history of rebuilding clubs.
He urged the NZRL not to look for a quick fix.
"NZRL have been on the downward spiral for a while and I think they've arrested it. You may not see it but I really believe there's opportunity, but you can't do it without putting all the things in place for the long term."
Richardson stood by the operational side of the Kiwis' campaign but admits he is ultimately judged by the results on the field.
He denied there was a feeling in the squad that the country was against them, a perception created by the lack of contrition in the post-match interviews against Fiji, including from skipper Adam Blair
"I think people have misinterpreted exactly what it was, there was no one more emotional after the game than Adam Blair
"What he was saying was that it was a terrible loss but hopefully those things we've put in place stay in place and you don't through the baby out with the bathwater."
Where Richardson was surprised was the the amount of support for the Pacific Island nations, which the NZRL need to capitalise on in terms of future tests.
Chief executive Alex Hayton has confirmed there will be at least one mid-year international held in New Zealand in 2018, which will be announced shortly.
"One of the reasons they had the challenges they've had with support or otherwise is because they've played so few test matches in New Zealand," Richardson said. "But there's a real opportunity to create a world of test matches in New Zealand with Tonga and Samoa that probably wasn't there five years ago."