Kemp Has His Sights Set High

Former Wellingtonian Tony Kemp has his eyes on a first team coaching job in the National Rugby League but is happy serving his apprenticeship as assistant coach at the New Zealand Warriors.

He and his family have settled well on their five acre block at Coatesville, near Auckland, and after 14 years of playing and coaching in Australia and England Kemp is thriving back home.

He was among the first people hired when the new-look Warriors management evolved from the debris of a club near collapse in late 2000, and he is heartened that coach Daniel Anderson values his partnership with him.

However, Kemp's main ambition is to one day have his own team in the NRL, and he knows he might have to return to Australia to achieve it.

"I'm doing my apprenticeship at the Warriors, and I'd love to coach them eventually," Kemp told League Correspondent.

"I realise though that I may have to leave at some stage to coach a first grade side."

Kemp said rather than have particular areas of responsibility he had helped Anderson make huge advances at the club across the board.

He said he and Anderson "butted heads" on several issues, and there was "a lot of healthy debate", though still recognising that the buck stopped with Anderson.

Kemp's standing with Anderson has been enhanced by Anderson's decision to appoint Kemp as one of his two assistants when he coaches the Kiwis against Australia in July.

The other is Kiwi great James Leuluai.

Kemp, 34, started coaching in England, ending his playing days as player-coach of English Superleague side Wakefield.

The Whangarei-born Kemp played league in Waitara where he was influenced by former Kiwis coach Howie Tamati. He followed Tamati to Wellington in the mid-1980s, playing for the Randwick club.

From there he joined Newcastle in the Australian National Rugby League.

He has played 25 tests for the Kiwis.