New Zealand coach David Kidwell has taken aim at his own fans in the aftermath of the Kiwis' shock loss to Fiji at the Rugby League World Cup.
The under-fire coach was reassessing his future on Sunday following the Kiwis' embarrassing loss that saw them bundled out of the World Cup in the quarter-finals.
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The tryless 4-2 defeat in Wellington on Saturday was New Zealand's second-successive loss to a tier-two nation after they fell to Tonga the previous week in a pool match.
As the public and the news media aimed fire at the beleaguered Kiwis, Kidwell and captain Adam Blair tried to put a positive spin on the shock defeat.
"I can't question our effort and our toughness," Kidwell said while Blair claimed New Zealand had "set some high standards".
But New Zealand Rugby League chief executive Alex Hayton said the Kiwis brand had been "damaged" and a blunt Fairfax Media headline declared "NZ league hits rock bottom".
The New Zealand Herald said the campaign "ended in a stunningly inept and embarrassing" loss to Fiji, with "a lack of cohesion, direction and accuracy and a plethora of unforced errors".
As criticism mounted on social media and talk-back radio on Sunday, Kidwell said he was now considering his future, with his current contract with New Zealand Rugby League due to end in January.
"I didn't get any sleep last night and really thought about what I want to do, what I want to achieve. I have to really sit down and think (about) how much you put into it and how much you get out of it," he said.
"I know I've created something here. It's whether I want to continue or the people will let me continue to see the fruits of the start of this.
"At the end of the day I'll do what's best for the jersey. That's always been my vision."
New Zealand have not fared well under Kidwell's watch, with a dismal three wins from 10 internationals since he was appointed coach last year.
However, he rejected public calls for his immediate resignation and criticism of the team's performance.
"Well, that's short-term sighted," he told NewsTalk ZB radio
"We have built something here, we want good people here that want to represent this jersey and they know the standards and values when they come in.
"These boys have shaped these values that we have and I don't want those values be stripped right down."
Kidwell also bemoaned a perceived lack of support from New Zealanders during the World Cup campaign.
"I just think it's the world, it's so negatively geared," he said.
"We're looking for support from our country, from our home fans, and yes it helps."
Captain Blair also fired back at critics, claiming the news media and fans wanted the Kiwis to fail.
"We deserved more than what people gave us credit for," Blair said.
"We had a lot thrown at us early on in our campaign from outside influences but we stayed strong and tried to push that all aside.
"It's hard when we try to do everything possible to bring games back to New Zealand to play in front of our fans and then we've got people not giving us a chance from the get-go."