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A coaching rivalry that began seven years ago in the National Youth League has led to Garth Brennan joining David Kidwell’s staff for New Zealand’s Rugby League World Cup campaign.

Brennan, who has been touted as a candidate for the vacant Gold Coast job following the sacking of Neil Henry on Monday, will work alongside Brian Smith to assist Kidwell in a new look coaching set up for the World Cup.

The highly regarded Penrith NSW Cup mentor worked under Smith at Newcastle before taking charge of the Knights NYC team when the Under 20s competition began in 2010 and pitted wits against Kidwell, who was starting out in the coaching ranks with South Sydney.

The pair continued their rivalry after Brennan joined the Panthers in 2012 and Kidwell moved to Wests Tigers the following year as assistant to Jason Taylor following a stint with Melbourne.

"I have known Dave for a while, I have coached against him over the years and we have met up a few times after games or I have seen him at football," Brennan said.

Brennan also has a long association with Kiwis star Dallin Watene-Zelezniak and a number of other New Zealand players at the Panthers, whom he guided to premierships in the NYC in 2013 and NSW Cup in 2014.

"I have coached Dallin since he was 16 years of age so I have had a great association with Dallin, we have a great relationship and he is a lovely boy," Brennan said.

"Obviously in my time at Penrith I have been involved with the likes of Dean Whare and also James Fisher-Harris and Corey Hariwera-Naera have come through my systems as well. If they are successful enough to make the Kiwis it that would be great."

The former police officer, who also coached NSW Origin captain Boyd Cordner in Under 16s at Newcastle, said he was excited about the opportunity to be involved with New Zealand at the World Cup.

"It is an honour and I am really looking forward to the chance to be involved with a national team and especially one that is as proud and as passionate as the Kiwis are," Brennan said.

"I feel like I understand their culture very well but I am looking forward to learning a bit more about it as well."

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Acknowledgement of Country

Penrith Panthers players and staff respect and honour the traditional custodians of the land and pay our respects to their elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.