Saturday, June 22

Why the next Kiwis coach needs Tony Kemp’s blessing, and why that’s hilariously embarrassing and cringe. 

Is anyone else as confused and sick to death of Tony Kemp’s continuing involvement and influence within rugby league circles as I am? I appreciate he’s entitled to his average opinions, but I can’t for the life of me work out how or why anyone would listen to him. 

Tony Kemp was an unremarkable player and let’s face it – a shithouse coach for the Warriors. He then went on to such career highlights as being forced to resign from his role as Kiwis high-performance manager, after claims of sexual misconduct and harassment led to an investigation – the outcomes of which … I have no idea… Most probably haven’t seen the light of day. 

So please forgive me for asking the question that has been on my mind…. How does someone of such mediocrity and blatant misconduct, carry any influence within the league community, let alone the decision makers in the NZRL? 

I sincerely appreciate there will be some reading this who have a personal affiliation with Kemp. I do not. Which perhaps allows me a little more freedom to say all this when others may feel uneasy about doing so. By all accounts, Kemp is an easy-going and affable bloke, who enjoys a good yarn and sharing crack-up stories. Awesome. And frankly, I don’t blame Tony Kemp for wanting to have a voice and get involved. Good on him.  Most people would if they could. I blame the people choosing to listen because Kemp simply is not qualified nor is it particularly appropriate for him to carry any weight at an elite level. Certainly not where selecting the next Kiwis coach is concerned. I appreciate he’s been a coach, but with all due respect, he was never a very good one. If Kemp wants to weigh in on grassroots league, then I’m all ears. If he wants to offer an opinion on the next Kiwis coach, or where NRL clubs could improve, I’m tuning out, unless he’s interviewing someone whose opinion does matter. 

Yet somehow, it has been suggested and perceived within league circles that Kemp and his mates had an influence on Michael McGuire’s sacking as Kiwis coach. And if that theory holds sway, logic suggests he would therefore have a voice in who his successor might be. All of which is… kinda cringe and pathetic. 

The next Kiwis coach is likely coming down to a two-and-a-half horse race. Either Stacey Jones partners with Wayne Bennett or Nathan Cayless partners with Wayne Bennett. If the NZRL decides against utilising Bennett, then somebody needs to clean house and get rid of the people making these decisions once and for all. Because that would be right up there as one of the most dysfunctional and diabolically dumb decisions ever made in the history of the game. 

The intriguing situation here is should Jones or Cayless get the job, surely they have to leave their assistant coaching roles at their respective clubs? Because if they don’t, then how on earth can the NZRL justify kicking Michael McGuire to the sidelines for coaching 3 State of Origin games mid-season, yet allow Jones or Cayless to assistant coach 27 rounds plus finals of the NRL season? The fact that McGuire wasn’t reinstated as the Kiwis coach because he’s coaching New South Wales is absolutely full of shit. Coaching State of Origin has little to no impact on his role as Kiwis coach unless they decide to play test matches during State of O. And even then, those are games assistants Jones or Cayless could fill in and gain experience from, given they have always been seen as likely successors. If anything, coaching in the pressure cooker of State of Origin would have better prepared McGuire for the knockout matches at the World Cup. 

McGuire’s last game as Kiwis coach will be remembered for a long time: a 30-0 drubbing of the World Champs, Australia on NZ soil – though no one turned up to watch it. To then sack a coach after such a display is tantamount to negligence and belligerence.

Those that made the amateur decision should just walk away from the game. I generally find most decisions made by the NZRL to be borderline thick as pigshit. And they’ve almost never actually had anyone sing the national anthem that was able to hold a note – and when they have, the sound system’s been stuffed. They really are a bunch of amateurs. I guess it shouldn’t come as any surprise then, that Kemp and his cronies could have such an influence over them.

Lord give me strength.