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Jasper Bruce

I could have juggled NZ and Blues jobs: coach Maguire

Coach Michael Maguire has taken on the NSW State of Origin job after success with New Zealand. (Dean Lewins/AAP PHOTOS)

Michael Maguire admits he found it hard quitting as New Zealand coach to take over NSW's State of Origin team and maintains he could have juggled both positions.

On Thursday, NSW Rugby League confirmed the former South Sydney and Wests Tigers mentor as their replacement for Brad Fittler, who quit in September after six series in charge of the Blues.

Maguire had been linked with the job since mid-October but deferred any decision about his future until after the Kiwis' ultimately triumphant Pacific Championships campaign.

The 49-year-old had been hopeful of holding both jobs simultaneously given neither is full-time, and was eager to oversee the Kiwis' run to the 2025 World Cup.

But discussions with the New Zealand Rugby League hierarchy, who were unconvinced he could juggle both jobs, ended in Maguire leaving the Kiwis last Friday.

"Unfortunately things don't always work out the way you'd like," Maguire said.

"I still feel that I could have juggled both, obviously they're campaigns (and not full seasons), it's just understanding that. 

"But I respect peoples' thoughts. One thing I do know is when you're working in a campaign, everyone's got to be aligned.

"Their thoughts were in a different direction and I respected that. I'm very fortunate now that I can go on with the Blues."

New Zealand rugby league team
Michael Maguire oversaw New Zealand's triumph over Australia to win the 2023 Pacific Championships. (Andrew Cornaga/AAP PHOTOS)

Maguire took charge of the Kiwis after their worst-ever World Cup result, a quarter-final loss to Fiji in 2017.

He restored the side's status as a global rugby league powerhouse, winning 12 of 18 Test matches as coach including a record-breaking 30-0 defeat of Australia earlier this month.

"I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the Kiwis," Maguire said.

"It is hard (to leave), you build a really strong connection with the players and that's what you want to build now with the NSW boys."

Maguire will become the first Blues coach since Craig Bellamy in 2010 to lead the state side without ever having played for them.

His three assistant coaches - John Cartwright, Brett White and Matt King - are all former Blues, though, and Maguire believes his work with the Kiwis will prepare him for the Origin cauldron.

"I understand how you're playing at that level, when you're bringing the quality of players together like that, and then playing for whether it's your country or your state," he said.

"I definitely understand that space. 

"I've had a lot to do with players who have played in Origin over long periods of time in my coaching career so you definitely feel the gravitas of what it's all about."

Now that he has signed on as Blues coach, Maguire will scale back his involvement with NRL side Canberra, who hired him as an assistant to Ricky Stuart ahead of the 2023 season.

"That's going to be quite a reduced sort of role," he said.

"My main focus will be around the Blues."

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