Iro replaces Bennett as NZ asst coach - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Iro replaces Bennett as NZ asst coach

21/02/2009 02:59:14 PM Comments (0)

Wayne Bennett has stood down from his role as assistant to New Zealand rugby league coach Stephen Kearney.

Bennett, who helped the Kiwis to victory in the Rugby League World Cup final against Australia last year, has told the New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) he wants to concentrate on his new job as coach of St George Illawarra Dragons.

The former Brisbane Broncos mentor will be replaced by ex-Manly and Souths winger Tony Iro who filled the role in 2006/07.

NZRL chairman Ray Haffenden said Bennett's decision was understandable, adding the board was delighted Iro could take up the job.

"Wayne said one of his objectives was to assist us in winning the World Cup," he said in a statement.

"He has achieved that and he said he was very grateful he had the opportunity to be involved. His focus now is on coaching the Dragons and that will take up all his time.

"We're forever grateful for the fantastic contribution Wayne made to the team and to the game as a whole while working with Stephen last year. We'll mark that appropriately at a later date."

"It's an exciting time to be a part of the New Zealand team after what happened last year," Iro said.

"Stephen has shown what a great coach he is already but, like him, I want to see New Zealand perform consistently well against Australia."

Iro's first assignment will be this year's Anzac test against the Kangaroos on May 8 at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane - the scene of the Kiwis' World Cup triumph.

Kearney echoed Haffenden's comments about Bennett's contribution.

"I don't think you can really say enough about Wayne's gesture in making himself available to work with us last year," Kearney said.

"He was a tremendous help to me personally and to everyone else in our squad. I know he thoroughly enjoyed the experience and we all felt the same way about having him involved with us.

"I fully understand Wayne's reasons but it's also exciting to have Tony coming into the group.

"We have strong links from when we played test football together in the 1990s and I've also watched with great interest since he moved into coaching."

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