Super Signing Day: Coaches Box

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Friday, October 26, 2018    Getty Images


Tana Umaga – Head Coach and Defence

Centurion for Wellington and Hurricanes and 74 caps for All Blacks including captaincy. He became player-coach and head coach at Toulon in France before returning as player-assistant coach and then head coach at Counties Manukau where they gained promotion to the Premiership and won the Ranfurly Shield for the first time. Tana took over as head coach at the Blues in 2016, and has held assistant coach duties for New Zealand Under-20 and the New Zealand Maori. “We have made progress with this team on and off the field over the last three years while our club has worked extremely well in many aspects of the operation off the field. The key now is to realise these improvements in our on-field performances in 2019.”


Tom Coventry – Forwards Coach
Tom Coventry joins the Blues after three years as head coach of North Harbour, including promotion to the Premiership.
The former Waikato player and Chiefs assistant coach enjoyed two Super Rugby titles at the Chiefs and experience in UK before returning to take up the role with North Harbour and also coach the Blues Development side.
“In my time in the region I have had a good chance to evaluate and be impressed by the talent here. Clearly there are unique challenges and responsibilities in this region but I believe the club has the foundations in place as well as a first-class training facility.”

Leon MacDonald – Attack Coach
The 56-Test All Black Leon MacDonald moves from his role as successful coach of Tasman Mako to take up the role as Attack Coach.
He moved into the coaching environment at the Mako after his retirement in 2010, before becoming assistant coach at the Crusaders in 2017 and then returning to the Mako in 2017 and 2018 as Head
“From what I have seen there is a strong culture at the Blues and the facilities for players and coaches is outstanding.”

Daniel Halangahu – Backs and Skills Coach
Experienced Super Rugby player and coach, Daniel Halangahu joins the Blues after three years as assistant coach with North Harbour.
Dan played 74 games for the Waratahs in Super Rugby as a first-five or fullback until 2012 before spending the next three years playing in Italy and France. He moved to New Zealand in 2015 to play for North Harbour and then took up an assistant coaching role.


Colin Cooper – Head Coach

Taranaki player turned coach Colin Cooper entered the Gallagher Chiefs environment with vast experience and knowledge gained throughout his career. Cooper was appointed Head Coach of the Gallagher Chiefs for the 2018 season succeeding Dave Rennie. Former Maori All Blacks and Taranaki Head Coach Colin Cooper has been coaching professionally for over 20 years, including eight seasons as Head Coach of the Hurricanes from 2003-2010. Cooper maintained a flawless record with the Maori All Blacks against their international sides and led Taranaki to victory in the 2014 Mitre 10 Cup Premiership.

Tabai Matson – Assistant Coach (Backs)

Tabai Matson, has a sharp rugby mind and an impressive rugby resume. The midfielder made 58 appearances for Canterbury and played 25 games for the Crusaders in the 1990s, before continuing his playing career abroad. Born in Fiji, Matson played two Tests for Fiji in the 1999 World Cup, a team he then went on to assist as an attack coach in the 2015 RWC. He also played five matches for the All Blacks before turning his hand to coaching. Matson joined Canterbury as their assistant coach in 2009, a role he held for three seasons before being promoted to head coach in 2012. He led Canterbury to their fifth successive national provincial championship title in his maiden year at the helm. In 2013 he joined the Crusaders coaching team and was also appointed assistant coach of the Maori All Blacks that same year, working alongside Colin Cooper for his three years with the national team.

Neil Barnes – Assistant Coach (Forwards)
Rugby is a passion not a job for dairy farmer Neil Barnes from Taranaki. The Canadian forwards coach has spent seven years with the Maple Leafs and has toiled away in a thorough coaching apprenticeship. He has won seven club rugby titles with New Plymouth Old Boys, been the assistant coach for the Taranaki provincial side and the Hurricanes Colts assistant coach with Dave Rennie. The 57-year-old also represented Taranaki for a few matches at lock.

Andrew Strawbridge – Assistant Coach (Attack)
Andrew Strawbridge is a Waikato man through and through playing for Waikato from 1983 to 1995; a part of the winning side taking out the NPC title in 1992 and the Ranfurly Shield in 1993. Strawbridge was involved with the Gallagher Chiefs in 2001 as a kicking coach until he became Assistant Coach at North Harbour in 2003. He assisted the NZ U20 in 2008 and 2009 winning the World Championship in both years and he was a part of the Chiefs coaching staff which helped win their back-to-back title wins in 2012 & 2013. A fluid ball runner and skilled backline organiser in his playing days, Strawbridge has brought his traits as a player to his role as Chiefs attack coach.

Nick White – Assistant Coach (Scrum)

Another former player turning his hand to coaching, Nick White, was a prop for Northland, Auckland, the Crusaders, the Highlanders, the Blues and New Zealand A before retiring. From their he joined the Blues coaching ranks as scrum coach in 2012 which then followed onto his appointment as Head Coach for Auckland in 2016.

White joined the Gallagher Chiefs as scrum coach for the 2018 season replacing Carl Hoeft who took up a new role with Japanese club Mitsubishi Sagamihara DynaBoars.


John Plumtree - Head Coach

John Plumtree takes over as head coach of the Hurricanes after four years as assistant to Chris Boyd during which he helped the club to its first Super Rugby title in 2016. Born in Taranaki, Plumtree has an extensive coaching background domestically and internationally. He has held head coaching jobs in Wales, New Zealand and South Africa and through his long association with the Natal Sharks while he has also worked as forwards coach with Ireland and as a defence coach with Japan. His coaching career followed a successful playing one which saw him represent Taranaki, Hawke’s Bay and Natal between 1985 and 1997.

Jason Holland - Assistant Coach
Having been with the Hurricanes since 2016, Jason Holland extended his contract as assistant coach until the end of 2021. Having started his first class playing career with Manawatu, Holland moved to Irish club Munster in 1999 where he went on to play more than 100 matches while appearing in two Heineken Cup finals.
He returned to New Zealand in 2012 and became an assistant coach at Canterbury before accepting his role at the Hurricanes where he helped the club win its first Super Rugby title.

Carlos Spencer - Assistant Coach

The former All Blacks playmaker will join the Hurricanes as an assistant coach in 2019 after he ends his latest stint in Japan with the Sanix Blues in December. Having represented the Blues between 1996 and 2005, Spencer moved to the United Kingdom where he went on to make more than 100 appearances for the Northampton Saints. Spencer’s coaching career started after a playing stint in South Africa with the Golden Lions before he linked up with the Natal Sharks before being named head coach of the Eastern Province Kings.


Scott Robertson – Head Coach

Former Crusaders, Canterbury and All Blacks loose forward Scott Robertson returns in 2019 to lead the BNZ Crusaders, after securing back to back Investec Super Rugby titles in the 2017 and 2018 seasons. Robertson was Head Coach of the Canterbury national provincial team from 2013-2016, guiding the team to three Premiership titles in that role. He also assisted the team to five successive titles between 2008 and 2012, first as the Assistant Forwards Coach for four years and then as the Assistant Coach in 2012. He has also enjoyed success as Head Coach of the New Zealand Under 20 team, claiming victory at the 2015 Under 20 World Championship. Prior to that he was the forwards coach in 2014. Robertson is highly regarded as a great communicator and strategist who helps players to thrive under his leadership.

Brad Mooar – Assistant Coach
Brad Mooar returns for his fourth year with the BNZ Crusaders in 2019, as Assistant Coach. Prior to the Crusaders, Mooar was Head Coach and Director of Rugby at Rugby Southland. His coaching career began with the Christchurch Rugby Club Colts team in 2007, and he progressed onto the Club’s premier team before becoming the Assistant Coach of the Canterbury Colts in 2011. In 2012 he moved to South Africa to coach the Eastern Province Kings to a Currie Cup Division 1 title, then became Assistant Coach of the Southern Kings Super Rugby side. Mooar also brings valuable off-field experience as a former solicitor, to the role, and provides inspirational leadership and excellent management skills. He has recently returned from a successful campaign as coach of the 2018 NZ Schools’ side.

Jason Ryan – Forwards Coach

Jason Ryan is back for his third season as Assistant Forwards Coach for the BNZ Crusaders in 2019. He brings a great skill set to the team particularly with his experience as a scrum coach. Ryan worked with the forwards in the Canterbury provincial team for five years, initially as a Scrum Coach and then as an Assistant Coach in 2015 and 2016. He also has national experience as the Scrum Coach for the Black Ferns in 2014, and New Zealand Under 20 team for three seasons. Ryan set up the Front Row Club in 2013, a coaching programme focused on safe development of props and hookers.

Ronan O'Gara – Backs Coach

Ronan O’Gara will once again join the BNZ Crusaders’ coaching group in 2019, as Backs Coach. The former Ireland international, who joined the Crusaders’ coaching group at the start of 2018, was previously an assistant coach for French Top 14 team - Racing 92. O’Gara played as first five-eighth for Ireland from 2000 – 2013. He holds the record for the most points scored for Ireland and holds the fourth highest total points haul in the world. He is also the sixth most capped international player in the world, and as well as his 128 games for Ireland, he has played for the British and Irish Lions in their 2001, 2005 and 2009 tours. He has also captained Munster, Ireland and the British and Irish Lions. Since retiring as a player in 2013, O'Gara has worked with Racing 92. He brings international experience and an exceptional skillset to the group, and formed great relationships with the playing group during his first season with the club.

Andrew Goodman – Assistant Coach

Andrew Goodman returns to the BNZ Crusaders in 2019, to assist with team defence and individual technical development. Goodman was a Tasman Mako representative and captain, before playing overseas in both Japan and Ireland. He became head of the Nelson College rugby academy in 2015, and has been a part of the Mako coaching group for three seasons, joining as an Assistant Coach in 2016. Goodman’s coaching experience also includes time with the Crusaders Academy and Nelson College First XV.


Aaron Mauger - Head Coach

Aaron joined the Pulse Energy Highlanders as Head Coach in 2018 on the back of three years as Head Coach for the Leicester Tigers in the United Kingdom. This was his second coaching position after being an assistant coach for the Crusaders in 2013 and 2014. Prior to beginning his coaching career Aaron had a long playing career where he accumulated 89 games for the Crusaders, 46 games for the All Blacks and 53 games for the Leicester Tigers before retiring due to back issues in 2010. Aaron is looking forward to coaching the team in 2019 and commented, "We’re really looking forward to the 2019 season, we have a great mix of experienced and proven campaigners at this level along with some exciting prospects coming through either in their debut seasons or first/second year. There has been a lot of growth in some of our younger squad members who will all benefit from the last years experience at Super Rugby, International & Domestic levels respectively, I expect the competition for positions in our top match day 23 to intensify this season as a result of the recent growth in these young men. It’s a great position for us to be in as a club and is a reflection of the environment we are constantly trying to provide for our people to achieve their full potential.”

Mark Hammett – Assistant Coach
Mark Hammett joined the Highlanders for the first time in 2017, coming in to command the forwards following the departure of Jamie Joseph and will enter his third season with the Highlanders in 2019. Hammett has a wealth of experience having been involved with the Canterbury/Crusaders since 2006, beginning as a forward coach and stepping up to the assistant coach role for the Crusaders and maintaining that role until 2010. Hammett then moved up the country to the Hurricanes where he was the Head Coach there from 2011 - 2014. After leaving the Hurricanes, Hammett went on to a Director of Rugby Role at the Cardiff Blues for 2014 and 2015 before becoming the inaugural coach of the Japanese Super Rugby expansion team, the Sunwolves, in 2016. Returning back to New Zealand for the 2016 Mitre Ten Cup Season, Hammett helped to lead the Tasman Makos back to the Premiership final.

Glenn Delaney – Defence Coach
Glenn Delaney enters his second year with the Highlanders after joining the coaching team in 2018 following on from a successful year as Head Coach for Canterbury where they won six of seven games and the 2017 Mitre 10 Cup Premiership title. A loose forward in his playing days, Delaney has also spent time with both Nottingham and London Irish before joining Canterbury. Originally from Christchurch, Delaney left New Zealand in 1993 to play rugby in Japan before heading to England where he had stints with Linwood, Nottingham, Coventry and London Irish. He was the Director of Rugby at Nottingham for seven years before joining London Irish as the Forwards Coach where he was up until July 2016 when he returned back to New Zealand.

Clarke Dermody – Scrum Coach
Clarke enters his sixth season with the Highlanders in 2019 after joining the club in 2014. He is returning from his first season in the coaching team for the Tasman Makos following four seasons with the Southland Stags from 2014-17. Clarke also spent a season in Japan coaching the Sannix Blues in 2014. Clarke had a remarkable playing career which included playing for every New Zealand age-grade team before being named in the All Blacks and playing three Tests in 2006. He is also a former Southland captain and played 92 games for the Stags and 44 for the Highlanders. He headed to Europe in 2007 to play for the London Irish Club abd played over 100 games for the club before injuring his back in 2012 and retiring to Invercargill.

Tune into your team's social media channels on 31 October and follow the hashtag #SuperSigningDay to keep up with all the news.