Penrith centre Dean Whare was left stunned when he arrived at Heathrow on Monday night, Australian time, to learn his coach had been sacked.
NRL.com broke the news to Whare, 25, at Heathrow after a 24-hour flight from Auckland via Los Angeles that Ivan Cleary and his assistant David Fairleigh had been let go and would likely be replaced by Anthony Griffin.
"Aw, true?" Whare told NRL.com in Terminal 2 arrivals.
"He's been awesome. I'll probably clear it up a bit more when I get onto my phone and have a chat to a few people.
"At the moment I've got no idea what's happening or what's been talked about."
Whare predicted Cleary – the Kiwis assistant coach at the last World Cup – would find a new job easily, however. He said the news was difficult to digest.
"It's happened (in the last) few hours," he said. "To hear that is pretty sad for Ivan and I'm pretty sure he'll have a good job after this anyway.
"(Injuries) have definitely been a big influence on how we played this year. Key players in key positions being injured all year doesn't help us pushing for those top spots.
"But I thought we finished the year pretty well and we were lucky not to get that wooden spoon. Credit to the boys that we got out there and gave it our best with the players that we had."
Whare said unexpected changes of coach were part of the territory for a professional athlete these days.
"It happens with coaches and players these days," he commented. "You're pretty much not guaranteed a job until you retire.
"Every player is watching his back and so it the coaching staff and coaches."
Asked how he would go about finding out more regarding Cleary's demise, Whare said: "I'm not sure at the moment.
"I'm still a bit jetlagged and tired. I'll probably work that out during the week and try and sort the whole thing out.
"We'll get this first game out of the way and hopefully we can get some resolutions back at the Panthers."
The Kiwis open their tour against Leeds on Friday night before playing three consecutive Tests against England. Friday's traditional tour match at Headingley will be spiced up by Adrian Morley and Ali Lauitiiiti playing the final matches of their careers as guests of the Rhinos.