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Kidwell relishing NZ coaching challenge

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 18/11/2016 Ian McCullough

Less than three months after being parachuted into the New Zealand hot-seat, David Kidwell says he's relishing the opportunity to replicate his playing success in the coaching box.

And if there was ever any evidence needed that Kidwell is enjoying the coaching caper it's the way he has kept his cards close to his chest this week in regards to his team for the Four Nations final against Australia.

Rather than name his team one through 17, Kidwell named a 19-man squad in alphabetical order, including both Te Maire Martin and Tohu Harris.

The duo are battling to fill the five-eighth role for New Zealand and replace Thomas Leuluai, who broke his jaw against Scotland.

Kidwell was part of two of the Kiwi team's greatest moments when they stunned Australia in the Four Nations final in Leeds in 2005 then again three years later when they lifted the World Cup against the Kangaroos in Brisbane.

During a nomadic playing career that took in spells at Adelaide Rams, Parramatta, Warrington, Sydney Roosters, Melbourne and South Sydney, Kidwell was a powerful second-rower with an aggressive streak.

Although he's won just one of this first four matches as coach and was held to a draw by Scotland, Kidwell said he's thriving on the opportunity to coach his country in a final having served as an assistant to Steve Kearney for the last two years.

"I've loved every minute of it," Kidwell told AAP.

"It's a job where we've had games where we've come back from adversity and you learn a lot about yourself.

"You may be down, but you can't show that to the players. You have to pick the team up when they are down and move onto the next challenge."

The Kiwis can often mix brilliance with inconsistency, two traits exemplified by mercurial halfback Shaun Johnson.

Kidwell admitted finding the balance between coaching and man-managing his team is something he's still getting to grips with.

"I haven't found the difference between coaching and playing that great," he said.

"I get more nervous as a coach than I every did as a player. But the most important thing is to not show that to my players.

"Those nerves are probably down to passion as well. I want the Kiwis to do so well. I am competitor at heart and I love winning."

Kiwis: Jesse Bromwich (capt), Adam Blair, Lewis Brown, Greg Eastwood, James Fisher-Harris, David Fusitu'a, Tohu Harris, Shaun Johnson, Jordan Kahu, Solomone Kata, Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Issac Luke, Te Maire Martin, Manu Ma'u, Kevin Proctor, Jordan Rapana, Joseph Tapine, Jason Taumalolo, Martin Taupau.

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