Mauger appointed Highlanders' coach

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    01 Aug 2017     Getty Images

The 46-Test veteran also appeared 89 times for the Crusaders from 2001-07. He played in England for three years for Leicester Tigers before injury forced his retirement. He also served as head coach of the Leicester side until this year.


Mauger will join Mark Hammett, Clarke Dermody and Jon Preston in the Highlanders' coaching group. An additional defence coach is still being sought with interviews to be held on August 25.

Mauger replaces Tony Brown who has joined another former Highlanders coach Jamie Joseph with the Japan team.

Mauger said he felt honoured to be appointed and the Highlanders had been consistent performers at the top of the competition in recent years and the coaching group looked forward to growing the side's game.

He had spent time with the Highlanders over the last five or six weeks and had been impressed with what was in place.

The playing group was very tight and there was a good fan base.

"You can see the way the guys play for each other especially towards the backend of this year. There were some fantastic performances and that was a reflection of a group of guys out there committed to their club and playing for their people so it is a pretty special environment to be joining and I'm looking forward to taking the job on," he said.

Mauger said his philosophy in coaching had been shaped by his exposure to earlier coaches like: Wayne Smith, Steve Hansen, Robbie Deans, Graham Henry, Rob Penny, and he had the choice of the best aspects of their approach and elements of his own to blend.

He said he was 'totally committed' to playing a brand of rugby the local fans enjoyed coming to watch over a period of time.

Highlanders chief executive Roger Clark said: "Having already contracted Mark and Aaron for next year, we started this head coach recruitment process with two very good candidates already in the fold."

There was a lot of continuity and a lot of capability in the coaching group retained, Clark said.

"Both have experience at head coach level and proven leadership skills. We could see that both are going to have significant input into the direction of the team over the next few years, and Aaron's appointment as head coach reflects our belief that he is best placed to lead the team's development at this stage," he said.

Clark said the coaching decision had been arrived at after a roundtable discussion between he and Mauger and Hammett and Hammett had led the drive to continue his own role as forwards coach with Mauger's skill set providing the continuity for the attack and head coach role that had been vacated by Tony Brown.

"It was a pretty easy process in the end," Clark said.

The transition would be made easier because Mauger would not be starting from scratch. There was a good coaching group in place, many of the players were returning and the team's leadership group were all coming back.

"We've got a really solid base to work from and Aaron's already identified that and we see Aaron and Mark and their team being able to take that to the next level," he said.