Vodafone Junior Warriors assistant coach Kelvin Wright has today become the latest beneficiary of the club’s career pathways after being appointed an analyst for the Kiwis’ upcoming Four Nations campaign.
Wright (33) will take up the role under head coach Stephen Kearney and assistant David Kidwell as the New Zealand Rugby League bolsters its stocks of home-grown coaching talent.
“One of the challenges that became obvious to us through our coach appointment process this year was the need to develop our elite coaching depth,” said NZRL football general manager Tony Iro.
“We already have some very promising candidates coming through our national team programmes and with the Vodafone Warriors, and we saw this as a chance to promote another bright young talent to the next level.”
Wright is excited to take this next phase in his coaching career.
“For me, it’s a fantastic opportunity,” he said.
“I feel really lucky and honoured to be part of the Kiwis’ coaching staff.
“I see it as a step in the right direction and hopefully it shows other young Kiwi coaches that the opportunities are there, if they put the time in.
“I think I’ve got good knowledge of the game and after speaking to Stephen (Kearney) I think he just needs another set of eyes and another voice with different ideas.”
As a player, Wright boasts an outstanding club and representative record, helping the Auckland Lions to four Bartercard Cup national titles. In 2007, he captained the side and was named NZRL Bartercard Cup Player of the Year.
He also played for the Villeneuve Leopards in the 2004 French championship and led the Mount Albert Lions to Fox Memorial club titles in 2008 and 2009. He was a member of the New Zealand side that won the 1999 Universities’ World Cup and also represented the New Zealand Residents in 2006 and 2009.
Since hanging up his boots, Wright has coached Otara Scorpions and Bay Roskill Vikings in the Auckland club competition and assisted with the Akarana Falcons 17s before joining the Vodafone Junior Warriors as assistant coach initially under John Ackland and now legend Stacey Jones.
He’s also the current Junior Kiwis assistant under Brent Gemmell.
“Having worked with him before, I know that he has an astute football mind and the potential to become one of our best coaches over the long term,” said Iro.
“I think it also shows we’re serious about developing our coaching pathway.”
Wright deftly balances his coaching aspirations with his day job as a builder. He’s a shining example to others on the rugby league pathway who are being urged to consider their options off the field while pursuing their professional and international dreams on it.
As part of that education programme, The Skills Organisation and Competenz have recently joined forces with NZ Rugby League under the "Got a Trade? Got it Made!" banner.
“There’s no doubt it’s challenging, but having a trade can work as an advantage,” said Wright.
“It’s a lot more viable option than other businesses, where the hours aren’t as flexible.
“I love it. You’ve got to have something outside of football and you’re around hard-working, down-to-earth people that love sport.
“I’d definitely encourage young people to take up a trade. It’s hard work, but it gives you a good work ethic, which can translate onto the football field.”
Wright combines with Jones again this Sunday when the seventh-placed Vodafone Junior Warriors face table-topping Newcastle at Hunter Stadium.