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The Roar


NRL News: Kiwis knock back Wayne for NZ legend, PVL may make early Commission exit, Cleary makes call on Luai for final

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21st February, 2024
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Wayne Bennett has been overlooked for the vacant New Zealand job, with Stacey Jones named as the new Kiwis mentor on a three-year deal.

Jones replaces Michael Maguire, who was forced to give up the role when he was named NSW State of Origin coach late last year.

Bennett was considered a strong chance to secure the gig after throwing his hat in the ring for the vacancy.

The Dolphins coach was an assistant in the Kiwis set-up which won the 2008 Rugby League World Cup. 

But he was pipped to the post by 47-year-old Jones, who has signed a deal which runs until the end of the 2026 World Cup.

Stacey Jones

Stacey Jones is a Kiwi rugby league legend. (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)

Jones, who captained the Kiwis during his 47-Test career and had worked alongside Maguire since 2018, will remain as an assistant coach with the Warriors.

“It was a special privilege to play for my country and to now have the chance to coach the Kiwis is both exciting and humbling,” Jones said.


“I’ve enjoyed working with the Kiwis over the last few years and seeing the team develop under Madge (Maguire). 

“I’ve learnt so much being involved with such a special group of players.

“I’m hugely grateful to the Warriors for the coaching opportunities they’ve given me to put me in this position, and for the way they supported me in my bid for this role with the Kiwis while continuing to work at the club.”

V’landys could quit early

ARL Commission chair Peter V’landys has been re-elected for a new three-year term but he has indicated he may not go the distance as he eyes off a successor.

The Racing NSW CEO will be rubber-stamped for a further term on the board at Wednesday’s annual general meeting but he told NewsCorp that he was no guarantee to last until 2027 in the role.

“It’s hard,” V’landys said. “It’s a pressure role, there’s no doubt. There are days where I’ve wanted to chuck it all in.


“I’m only human. Some days I think to myself, why the hell am I doing this? Why am I putting my family through this? But other days when you see the positive results, you are glad you are doing it. I love helping and representing the fans.

“This job is the greatest rollercoaster ride you can ever be on. One day you are on top of the world and looking at the game and thinking how good is this? And then the next day something bad happens and you are in the basement thinking how do we get ourselves out of this?

“It’s great to be appointed for another term but there’s no guarantees I do the whole term.”

Megan Davis and Kate Jones will also be reappointed for three more years as the NRL looks to venture into uncharted waters with the Las Vegas double-header experiment creating history to open this year’s season next week.

Jones is viewed as a potential successor to V’landys with the former Queensland politician making an impact in his first term on the Commission.

The next broadcast rights deal and expansion will be major decisions in the next few years with doubts growing over preferred candidate Papua New Guinea’s capability of hosting an NRL franchise despite financial backing from the Australian government.


Luai out of WCC final as Cleary eyes off trophy

Penrith head coach Ivan Cleary is eager to see his all-conquering NRL powerhouse belatedly join the roll call of world club champions with victory over Wigan at the DW Stadium.

The Panthers fell short against Wigan and Bradford in 1991 and 2004 respectively before suffering an agonising 13-12 golden-point defeat to St Helens at BlueBet Stadium in February last year. 

Despite winning three successive NRL premierships, Cleary knows an asterisk will remain beside his side’s achievements until they have ascended to the global crown. 

“It’s the one thing we haven’t been able to do – only 12 teams have managed to win this thing and we’ve had three goes and missed out on it,” Cleary said on Tuesday. 

“You look through the list of winners and only the big clubs have done it, so for us to be on that list would be big. 

“I’ve watched these games for many years from growing up as a kid, and it’s a big game – you don’t play for a world championship every day.


“Both teams will show what it means on the night.” 

(Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

Penrith and Wigan have each been hit by injury setbacks ahead of the fixture, with Cleary confirming the Panthers will hand 20-year-old Jack Cole only his second senior start at five-eighth in place of absent star Jarome Luai. 

Wigan will draft youngster Harvie Hill into their front row after losing new signing Luke Thompson, formerly with Canterbury, to concussion in Saturday’s Super League season-opener at Castleford.

Another new arrival, prop Sam Walters, was already sidelined. 

Wigan head coach Matt Peet said he breathed a huge sigh of relief when halfback Harry Smith escaped a ban following a yellow card for a tip tackle against Castleford, meaning he can line up at the sold-out DW Stadium on Saturday (7am Sunday AEDT). 

“Both teams want to come up against the best of one another,” Peet said. 


“We want to see Harry on that stage, particularly because of the journey he’s been on, coming through (Wigan’s development) pathway. 

“Harvie is another home-grown lad which is brilliant and it is an exciting opportunity for him.”

with AAP