Sport | Rugby league

NRL Hall of Famer appointed as Kiwis coach

Stacey Jones has replaced Michael Maguire as the man in charge for the next two years.

“I know what the Kiwi jersey is all about.”

Those words from former rugby league star, Stacey “The Little General “Jones who has been chosen as the head coach for the New Zealand Kiwis.

It can be seen as part of the Kiwi’s coaching succession plan as he has been an assistant coach for the past five years and is now in the top job until the end of the 2026 Rugby League World Cup.

Jones’ playing career saw him captain the Kiwis and play a total of 46 tests while amassing 261 NRL appearances for the Warriors and a further 45 games for Les Catalans Dragons in the United Kingdom Super League.

“We’re delighted to be appointing an absolute legend of the game to coach the Kiwis.” New Zealand Rugby League chief executive Greg Peters said.

Jones, aged 47, has also been an assistant coach with the One New Zealand Warriors in the NRL for eight seasons.

“It’s just fantastic. I believe that it’s our time, it’s his time, for a Kiwi coach to come back into the frame and someone steeped in the history and legacy of the team and also now a very talented coach, it’s just perfect.”

The last Kiwis coach from Aotearoa was David Kidwell in 2017.

Jones expressed his gratitude for being given this responsibility, saying: “It means a huge amount, it’s kind of like when you make your debut, when you get picked for the Kiwis for the first time, it’s sort of got that feeling again about it, it’s really special.”

Despite the announcement, Jones will remain in his assistant role as the Warriors’ special teams coach just as previous head coach Michael Maguire did with Sydneys West Tigers.

Jones believes it’s vital he stays connected to rugby league on a day-to-day basis because it helps him learn to keep up with the evolution of the game.

“They (Warriors) we’re so supportive of me to do this but also continuing my role there.

I think it’s important to still be around the footy game day in and day out where I’m still learning lots of stuff from day to day coach and I know what I’m doing there I can bring to this Kiwi team.”

During his playing career, Jones played more than 350 professional games.

Recognized for his contributions, Jones has received several accolades, including being made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to rugby league, the Golden Boot in 2002, and induction into the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame.

He’s also only one of three New Zealanders to get into the NRL Hall of Fame.