New Zealand have appointed Australian Andrew McFadden to the national team as assistant coach, the role he already fills for the New Zealand Warriors.
McFadden has replaced another Australian, Ivan Cleary, as the assistant for Stephen Kearney when New Zealand face Australia in the one-off Test in Sydney on May 2.
Cleary filled the role at last year’s World Cup but made himself unavailable to focus on his head coach duties at Penrith.
He makes way for McFadden, 36, who played 100 games in the halves during a club career which spanned stints at the Canberra Raiders, Parramatta Eels and Melbourne Storm from 1997 to 2004. He was a teammate of Kearney’s at the Storm.
He joined the Warriors last year after a stint as assistant coach at the Raiders.
New Zealand Rugby League high performance manager Tony Iro says another contender was former Kiwis second-rower David Kidwell, who had applied for the vacant Kiwis head coach role earlier this year. He missed out to Kearney, who was reappointed.
McFadden’s Warriors’ connection helped his cause in the appointment process, Iro said.
“Andrew provides a good link with the NZ-based players, who have given him a ringing endorsement.
“We felt, under the circumstances, Andrew offered more specific experience in the role as offensive coach and was a better fit for what we needed at this time.”
Iro said appointing two assistants was considered and would be looked at again ahead of the Four Nations tournament later in the year.
McFadden says he is excited at the opportunity and has no mixed allegiance given his Australian background.
“One thing you learn in rugby league is that your loyalty is to the team you’re with at that time,” he said.
“When I moved from Canberra to the Warriors, they became my team. Now, it’s no different for the Kiwis.”
The NZRL has appointed Manly Sea Eagles trainer Donny Singe to that role with the Kiwis.