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Kidwell switches codes but keen to retain Maori job

Eels assistant coach David Kidwell has stepped down to take up a role under Michael Cheika at Argentine Rugby Union but the Maori All Stars mentor may not be completely lost to the game.

Kidwell, who coached the Kiwis at the 2017 World Cup, will leave for Argentina next month to become defence coach for Los Pumas ahead of the 2023 Rugby World Cup after being approached by Cheika with an opportunity he "couldn't let pass".

However, Kidwell is passionate about his Maori heritage and hopes to continue coaching the All Stars team he has led to wins in 2020 and 2022 along with a 10-10 draw in 2021, as Argentina do not have any playing commitments in February.

"I came to win the World Cup, that's my mentality," Kidwell told the Argentinian media on Monday night at a press conference via Zoom with Cheika and newly appointed backs coach Felipe Contepomi. 

"I told Michael, I'm very excited. I spoke with my family, it was a very big decision. I am very happy."

Kidwell will join the Los Pumas coaching staff under Michael Cheika, who will also oversee Lebanon's World Cup campaign at the end of the season
Kidwell will join the Los Pumas coaching staff under Michael Cheika, who will also oversee Lebanon's World Cup campaign at the end of the season ©Robb Cox/NRL Photos

Cheika, who worked with Sydney Roosters in 2020, doubles as the Lebanon rugby league coach and the former Wallabies mentor will lead the Cedars at the end of season World Cup in England.

Roosters assistant Matt King will help Cheika prepare the Lebanon squad for the World Cup and further NRL appointments are expected. Former Wests Tigers and Cedars captain Robbie Farah is also set to be involved.  

Eels coach Brad Arthur said that while he enjoyed working with Kidwell, he understood that the opportunity to expand his horizons was too good an offer to refuse.

“Kiddy is a popular member of the club and while we are sad to see him go, we’re also happy for him and wish him the best in his next chapter," Arthur said.

"He has a really good opportunity at Argentine Rugby and we’re glad we are able to provide a pathway for him to pursue.”

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