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David Kidwell is announced as head coach of the New Zealand Kiwis Rugby League team. Auckland, New Zealand. Friday 16 September 2016. © Copyright Photo: Andrew Cornaga /

David Kidwell has been confirmed as the new Kiwi coach following Stephen Kearney's signing as Vodafone Warriors head coach on Tuesday.

The Christchurch-born 39-year-old has been Kearney's assistant coach fsince 2014 and was an assistant coach for Jason Taylor at Wests Tigers this year.

Kidwell (Kiwi #679) will fill the role on a full-time basis. His first assignment will be next month’s one-off Trans-Tasman Test against Australia in Perth and the Four Nations tournament in England.

“I feel humbled and privileged to be named head coach of the Kiwis,” says Kidwell, who played 25 tests for his country from 1999-2008, including the victorious 2008 Rugby League World Cup campaign.

“As assistant, I’ve watched Stephen building a strong culture within the programme and I want to make sure that is upheld and becomes even stronger. That’s the message I’ll be giving to our senior players.

“I’ll add my own individual style to the Kiwis, but as far as culture and values and belief in ourselves, I’m determined to uphold these foundations of our house, as we say. That passion for the black-and-white jersey is paramount.”  

Kidwell’s appointment to the top job was a logical step, given his apprenticeship under Kearney and his experience as an NRL assistant coach, most recently at Wests Tigers. He also coached the Junior Kiwis in 2011-12.

“David has been part of a succession plan for when the head coach role became vacant,” says NZRL chief executive Alex Hayton.

“He has contributed to the development of the Kiwis' team culture, brings continuity and certainty to the playing group over the next 14 months, leading into the Rugby League World Cup.

“David will be contracted full-time through to January 2018. This will allow David to focus 100% on the role, but also assist in pushing the Kiwis' brand among young players of New Zealand heritage living in Australia and attend various events in New Zealand to promote the game.”

One of Kidwell’s first priorities over the next few days will be to recruit a coaching staff that continues the line of succession.


  • Born | April 23, 1977, Christchurch
  • 209 NRL games (1997-2009) for Adelaide Rams, Parramatta Eels, Sydney Roosters, Melbourne Storm & South Sydney Rabbitohs
  • 32 games (2001-02) for Warrington Wolves
  • 25 tests (1999-2008) for NZ Kiwis
  • Coached South Sydney Rabbitohs to 2010 NYC grand final (lost to Vodafone Warriors)
  • NRL assistant coach at Melbourne Storm and Wests Tigers
  • Junior Kiwi coach 2011-12
  • Kiwi assistant coach 2014-16
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