The appointment of McNamara and Richardson, whose son Brent will be a member of the USA Hawks coaching staff for the World Cup, is aimed at providing Kiwis mentor David Kidwell with an experienced off-field support team for the tournament.
McNamara coached England from 2010 until being replaced by Wayne Bennett at last year’s Four Nations and remains highly regarded by leading players such as Sam Burgess and James Graham for the increased professionalism he introduced to the team’s preparations for Tests.
“Being an international coach is completely different to being a club coach, there are different areas you can get gains from than you would as a club coach.
“Before Australia had all of those areas [covered] so we provided the very best opportunity for the England players to perform at the time and I hope I can bring that to the New Zealand team this year.”
During McNamara’s tenure with England and Kearney’s eight years in charge of the Kiwis, the gap with Australia narrowed and New Zealand won the 2008 World Cup, 2010 and 2014 Four Nations tournaments and briefly claimed the No.1 international ranking.
“I was fortunate to have some incredible staff working alongside me in a program that was really striving for excellence for the England players,” McNamara said.
“That was how our connection started and win, lose or draw we certainly appreciated how much work the other had put into each game.
“Coming from the northern hemisphere it is a bit different to be involved with New Zealand but I am really excited and really honoured to be part of their program working towards the World Cup this year.”
While there will be great interest in McNamara’s role with New Zealand if the Kiwis again come up against England, as they did in the epic semi-final of the 2013 World Cup at Wembley, the 45-year-old insists his only focus was on helping Kidwell achieve success.
“I haven’t really thought too much about that. I really enjoyed my time as England national coach but they have moved on and I have moved on,” McNamara said.
“Australia has had the upper hand in the last 12 months, they have made some changes to their program and really strengthened with some good results in the ANZAC Test last year, the Test in Perth and the Four Nations.
“But there are world class players in all the teams, not just the major teams, with the eligibility rules changing so I think this will be the most competitive World Cup we have ever had.”
With McNamara’s wealth of coaching experience, Kidwell has opted to have just one assistant coach and leave Richardson to oversee all off-field responsibilities in a newly created role of Campaign Manager for the World Cup.
“I have always been excited about international football and the chance to be involved in the World Cup is a boy hood dream really,” said Richardson, who helped recruit Kidwell to Souths in 2007 and appointed him as Under 20s coach in 2010 after he retired.
“I am really looking forward to working with Kiddy and the whole team, and I will be doing everything I can to make sure he is free to concentrate on coaching.”
Asked who he would cheer for if the Kiwis played USA, who met Australia in a quarter final at the the 2013 World Cup, Richardson said: “That would be a hard one, with my son involved with the USA, but I will be cheering for the Kiwis and I am really looking forward to being involved with the New Zealand culture. It is something that sets them apart.”
New Zealand play Samoa at Mt Smart Stadium on October 28, Scotland at Christchurch Stadium on November 4 and Tonga at Waikato Stadium on November 11. Click here to purchase tickets.
By Brad Walter | @BradWalterSport
Chief Correspondent, RLWC2017