Des Hasler and Geoff Toovey.

Hasler, Toovey withdraw from Kiwis coach race

Laurie Daley and Michael Maguire are considered the frontrunners for the vacant New Zealand head coaching role after the withdrawal of high-profile candidates Des Hasler and Geoff Toovey.

Hasler revealed on Monday morning that he was out of the running for the job due to his aspirations to return to the helm of an NRL club, while Toovey told NRL.com that he has also been passed over for the Kiwis gig.

All four were recently interviewed by an NZRL panel as potential replacements for David Kidwell, who chose not to reapply for his job last month following a disastrous 2017 World Cup campaign.

With New Zealand's mid-season Test against England in Denver less than six weeks away, the NZRL plan to announce their new coach within the next fortnight.

Speaking on Macquarie Sports Radio, former Canterbury and Manly mentor Hasler indicated that Kiwi officials wanted to avoid appointing a coach who still held immediate ambitions to coach first grade.

"I went over there and had a chat to New Zealand Rugby League just to see where they're at and where I'm at. It was good," Hasler said.

"They're a great nation. If you could pull together their strongest possible national side for New Zealand rugby league, you'd have a very good side.

"But their aspirations are probably to go with somebody that's not still aspiring to be in the NRL, which is fair enough."

The New Zealand Kiwis.
The New Zealand Kiwis. ©Nathan Hopkins/NRL Photos

An NZRL statement provided to NRL.com identified the next World Cup in England as the defining element in their search for a coach after a shock semi-final exit at the tournament's most recent edition.

"The NZRL understands that the calibre of coach sought for the Kiwis head coach role could also be a target for a future NRL club position," the statement read.

"NZRL's main objective is to appoint the best person to lead the team towards the World Cup in 2021 and eligibility will be one of the factors considered when making this appointment."

Daley is considered a clear favourite for the Kiwis job given he has often played down his own NRL coaching ambitions, and has moved into breakfast radio after his five-year tenure as NSW Origin coach ended with last year's series loss.

Maguire has been installed as high performance manager of the NRL's referees since being sacked by Souths, but maintains his interest in the New  Zealand job as well as a desire to return to the game as a club coach.

Stephen Kearney's move to the Warriors at the end of 2016 saw Kidwell take charge of the national side just one year out from the World Cup.

A review of Kidwell's set-up found the now-Eels assistant coach "too inexperienced" for the role, in which he "attempted to implement too much in a short space of time".

The report – led by sports lawyer Tim Castle and former Bulldogs and now ARU boss Raelene Castle – also recommended non-Kiwi candidates be considered to coach the Kiwis among a host of changes from grassroots to the highest level of the game in New Zealand.