Cameron Smith has backed Tim Sheens to continue as Australian rugby league coach despite Saturday’s Four Nations final loss to New Zealand.
The Kiwis claimed the end-of-season trophy in a nailbiting 22-18 win over the Kangaroos at Wellington’s Westpac Stadium to avenge somewhat last year’s World Cup final humiliation.
Sheens’ five-year tenure as Australian mentor is sure to come under scrutiny after the loss.
The appointment is made on a year-by-year basis and Kangaroos skipper Smith says he wants to see the four-time first-grade winning mentor coach on into 2015.
“He has done a great job with the team. He has won every trophy that you can win at international level – he has only lost a few games as coach so it is a pretty fair record,” Smith said.
“I don’t think there is any other international coach in the game that has the same record.
“If he feels he can still contribute to the team and he still wants to, then I would love to see him go on.”
Sheens did a commendable job getting an injury-hit Australia to the final, with nine players from the World Cup-winning 17 unavailable for the tournament.
Sheens blooded nine Test rookies in games against New Zealand, England and Samoa before the final.
“He did a great job,” Smith said.
“It was a fair challenge for not just him but all the coaches and the staff to get the team together.
“We had a lot of new faces, guys that haven’t played too much big-time footy. They have played some tight NRL matches and played in front of some big crowds but nothing gets you ready for representative football until you get there.
“I thought the coaching staff did a great job. We came together pretty quickly – I was actually surprised.
“I made the comment after the first game, although we lost, I was really impressed with the way the young guys joined the group so fast.”
The Australians play only one international next year in the Anzac Test.
That and the absence of an obvious successor could keep Sheens in the post for at least another year.
If not, his Kangaroos assistant David Furner is one possibility to take over.