Des Hasler has ruled himself out of the running for the vacant New Zealand coaching role after indicating a desire to return as head coach of an NRL side.
Hasler was understood to be one of four candidates to take the job from David Kidwell after meeting with the New Zealand Rugby League in Auckland last week.
However, his withdrawal on Monday now leaves former NRL coaches Michael Maguire and Geoff Toovey, as well as ex-NSW State of Origin coach Laurie Daley, in the running.
Hasler, who is mired in a court case with former club Canterbury after his sacking last year, revealed NZRL officials were keen on a coach who had no plans on moving into the NRL.
"I went over there and had a chat to New Zealand Rugby League just to see where they're at and where I'm at. It was good," Hasler told Macquarie Sports Radio.
"They're a great nation. If you could pull together their strongest possible national side for New Zealand rugby league, you'd have a very good side.
"But their aspirations are probably to go with somebody that's not still aspiring to be in the NRL, which is fair enough."
Maguire, who is the high performance coach of the NRL referees, remains interested in the Kiwis job despite often stating his ambition to return to club football as a head coach.
He was sacked from South Sydney late last year after missing the finals.
"Yes I have spoken to them around where they're at and they're working through a process at the moment of what they're after," Maguire said.
"There's so much quality that's coming out of New Zealand, it's actually a really exciting time... I think the opportunity for New Zealand to rise again is definitely ready to go."
The Kiwis' next Test is the controversial match against England to be played in Denver in June.
Australian Associated Press