Friday, July 19

Why the selection of Stacey Jones as Kiwis head coach should have the NZRL decision makers on notice. 

Stacey Jones has been announced as the new coach of the Kiwis.

Congratulations, Stacey. But… it must be somewhat bittersweet. 

The fans, the players, and even Stacey himself will know that he wasn’t the strongest applicant for the job. That platitude falls upon, Wayne Bennett.

Unless the NZRL knows something we don’t about Bennett’s health (given his age), then they have made a choice based on solidarity and culture, rather than talent and experience. 

Stacey will do a decent job. The work he’s been doing under Andrew Webster within the Warriors setup will no doubt have a positive influence and he brings a lot of mana as a legend from his playing days.

All of this is going to contribute to him hopefully having a successful stint at the helm. He’d really have to make a meal of things given the quality depth of talent at his disposal.

But if we’re all being honest, he wasn’t the person who submitted the strongest resume. It’s actually somewhat disrespectful to Jones, to have selected him over Bennett because Stacey will know he didn’t deserve the job over his rival.

At least, not based on experience. He was selected out of pure patriotism and solidarity rather than being the best option. That will weigh on his mind but how he responds to it, will be the test. 

But here’s the kicker… if Jones does not perform to a strong standard, then Greg Peters, CEO of the NZRL needs to be held accountable for this decision.

He needs to resign if we discover Jones is in above his head, or just doesn’t live up to expectations.

The NZRL had the perfect opportunity to introduce the greatest coach in the history of the modern game, to steer the ship, and allow for a nice transition plan that would have seen Jones take the helm in 2026, having assistant coached at the Warriors for another few years under Webster’s steady tutelage.

Instead, they have opted to turn their backs on an absolute bonafide icon and opt for a guy who has never been a head coach in the NRL.

When you consider the option they had, that is practically tantamount to negligence.

I’d love to be a fly on the wall when someone at the NZRL tries to explain their decision to Bennett. I doubt anyone would have had the courage to make that phone call – likely a cowardly email was sent. 

Greg Peter’s is quoted as saying that Stacey Jones “… was far and miles ahead of any of the other candidates.”

What the actual fuck?

And he’s serious. How the fuck on God’s green earth did he come to that conclusion? Jones has never won a premiership, never head coached in the NRL aside from filling in after Nathan Brown shat the bed. But somehow this qualifies him over Bennett? Seriously?

No. 

Greg Peters and his selection panel need to put themselves on the line for this decision. If they don’t, then they’re just a bunch of pen-pushing cowards who are too easily influenced by the likes of unqualified shock jocks such as Tony Kemp. 

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