Kiwis back coach Kidwell despite RLWC loss

Nov 18, 2017 - 3:49 PM Coach David Kidwell has the backing of Kiwis playmaker Shaun Johnson and captain Adam Blair despite New Zealand's upset Rugby League World Cup quarter-final loss to Fiji in Wellington.

Kidwell's track record at the New Zealand helm has been less than impressive, with just three wins and a draw from 10 matches since taking over from Stephen Kearney in September last year.

The Kiwis hit a new low in their tryless 4-2 loss to Fiji, a solitary Johnson penalty their only points from an 80-minute effort littered with missed tackles, handling errors and poor decision-making.

It was New Zealand's second defeat in a week to a second-tier team, following their 28-22 upset loss to Tonga in Hamilton.

But Johnson made it clear that while both losses were disappointing, Kidwell and Blair still had his backing.

"One hundred per cent," he said.

"Obviously, results didn't show the hard work we've put in but we are trying to build and create something that's going to last a lot longer than what we are, and those two are at the heart of it.

"While we didn't get the results and we're out of the competition, in terms of building a foundation for the Kiwis going forward, I definitely think we've done well."

Johnson described the Kiwis dressing room as sombre after Saturday's loss, saying the team felt they had let the country down.

"I guess the most disappointing thing for me is that everyone who doubted us - the fans, the media - you got your way," he said.

"We couldn't deliver what I thought we could deliver.

"That's what burns, that's probably what hurts the most, that we let down our country."

Blair echoed Johnson's comments, saying he was proud of what the Kiwis had created.

"We've been on a a really good journey that's changed a lot of things in the Kiwi jersey - we've set some high standards and we've created a great work environment," he said.

"The smart stuff we missed tonight - the toughness, you've seen that out there all game. It went from the first minute to the last.

"There had to be a loser tonight and unfortunately it's us. We're really disappointed about it but again, we've created something for the future."

Kidwell himself didn't give a direct answer when questioned about whether he felt he had earned a contract extension when his position is reviewed early next year.

"I'm very passionate about this jersey, a lot of hard work has gone into create this environment from everyone," he said.

"I want to make sure it's seen, it's maintained to the standards these boys have shaped."

Source: AAP

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