‘Fully focused’ Michael Maguire keeps New Zealand as top priority amid NSW State of Origin offer

Raiders assistant and NZ coach Michael Maguire hasn't decided if he'll lead NSW in Origin next year.

Raiders assistant and NZ coach Michael Maguire hasn't decided if he'll lead NSW in Origin next year. Photo: AAP

Michael Maguire looks set to prioritise coaching New Zealand ahead of the NSW side if New Zealand Rugby League deems him unable to juggle both positions in 2024.

Last week, NSW Rugby League (NSWRL) offered Maguire a one-year deal to replace outgoing Blues coach Brad Fittler, who stepped down following back-to-back State of Origin series defeats.

But the biggest question surrounding Maguire’s mooted appointment appeared to be whether he had room in his schedule amid duties at the Kiwis and as an assistant with the NRL’s Canberra Raiders.

Part of the sticking point for Fittler had been that from 2024, the Blues position will not be a full-time job, so could lend itself to a coach who has other irons in the fire.

Maguire took charge of the Kiwis following a disastrous World Cup campaign in 2017 that ended with their worst-ever result – a loss to Fiji in the quarter-finals.

He has overseen a resurgence since then that has yielded a 67 per cent win rate, including victories in seven of the side’s past eight matches.

In April, the 49-year-old signed a contract extension to remain with New Zealand until the end of 2025.

Maguire addressed his future with the Kiwis for the first time on Monday after New Zealand Rugby League had initially refused to comment when the Origin offer became public last week.

“I’m fully focused about the Kiwis,” Maguire told New Zealand media.

“That’s what I’m going to be continually talking about and that’s my goal at the moment.

“I am 100 per cent committed with the boys, we’ve done a lot of work to get to this point and I don’t plan on anything getting in the way of what we’re focused on.”

NZRL has still yet to publicly confirm whether Maguire could take on the Blues job while fulfilling commitments at the Kiwis.

No hard-and-fast decision is expected until after the ongoing Pacific Championships.

Maguire declined to weigh into his possible new position with NSW but said he had unfinished business with the Kiwis after their semi-final exit from last year’s World Cup.

“One hundred per cent, I’m going to the World Cup,” Maguire said.

“I can assure you now, that’s my plan. You’ve got to be successful as a coach, to be able to go to where we want to get to.

“That is my plan and I want nothing more than to be able to stand with the players and achieve that.

“I won’t lie, it hurt not to be able to do it overseas (at last year’s World Cup) and that’s the driving factor of where I sit right now.”

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