Colin Cooper appointed Head Coach of Maori All Blacks

Getty Images     23 Jul 2013     Getty Images

New Zealand Maori Rugby Board Chairman Wayne Peters today announced Cooper's appointment along with former All Black Tabai Matson (Crusaders Assistant Coach and former Canterbury Coach) as his Assistant, and former All Black Carl Hoeft (Chiefs Development squad coaching staff) as scrum coach. Luke Crawford has been re-appointed as the team's kaumatua and Hurricanes team manager Tony Ward will manage the team.

Wayne Peters congratulated the management team and said the appointments marked an exciting new chapter for a very special team.

"We are delighted with Colin's appointment. He has a great coaching record currently as Coach of Taranaki, but his experience includes the Hurricanes (2003-2010), the New Zealand Colts (2001) and Junior All Blacks (2005-2009).

"As a former player himself, he well understands how important this team is for players who are wanting more opportunities to press for higher honours.

"Colin is joined by a very experienced coaching team in Tabai and Carl and they bring great experiences as former players at the highest level."

The Maori All Blacks take on Canada in Toronto on 3 November, and the USA Eagles in Philadelphia on 9 November in the Aotearoa Fisheries North American tour.

"The Maori All Blacks is a very special team that has a rich history spanning over 100 years in New Zealand, and it continues to be an important part of our rugby landscape.

"We are thankful to our sponsors for their support of this team, in particular AIG for their targeted investment in the Maori All Blacks to support an annual international programme for the next five years.
Colin Cooper, a former Maori All Black himself (1982-1983) said he was humbled to be appointed to the job.

"This is pretty special for me. I am very proud of my Maori heritage, and I feel very privileged to be appointed to this job. The Maori All Blacks have always been a unique team that celebrates the best of Maori and rugby.

"Personally, the Maori team has been a special part of my own playing career, one of which I am very proud.

"I want to continue the great work done by coaches before me and I am committed to ensuring that the Maori All Blacks offer the All Blacks selectors more choices about the talent that is coming through the ranks.

"Over the next few months, we will focus on our options for selections, and we want to ensure players continue to have this as a valuable pathway to other honours.

"We're hugely excited about the tour to Canada and the USA, and we are looking forward to working with AIG and our other commercial partners to make this programme a great experience for everyone involved,” he said.

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Colin Cooper - Ngati Pukenga

Colin Cooper is currently coaching Taranaki's ITM Cup provincial team - a side with whom he has long connections. He ran out 101 times for Taranaki and his playing career also included selections to the Maori All Blacks 1982-1983, and Junior All Blacks in 1982.

After a two year stint in the Assistant Coach's seat, Cooper was Taranaki's Head Coach from 1999-2002 before joining the Crusaders as forwards coach in 2002 and seeing them to that year's Super 12 title. He was appointed Hurricanes Head Coach from 2003-2010, leading the franchise to semifinals in 2003, 2005, 2008 and 2009, and a Finals berth in 2006.

He coached the New Zealand Under 21s that won the International Under 21 tournament in 2001. In 2005-2009 he coached the Junior All Blacks - a side undefeated during his tenure which included an IRB Pacific Nations title.

He stood down from that role in 2010 to return home to Taranaki as Head Coach. Under his watch, Taranaki became the toast of the province when they took the Ranfurly Shield from Southland in August 2011, fending off one challenge before locking it away for the summer. In 2012, Cooper’s side fended off six challenges before the Shield was wrestled from them by the Mooloos. Taranaki’s 2012 ITM Cup semifinal against Christchurch will go down as one of the most memorable playoffs in the competition, with Taranaki coming from behind to score four tries and force Canterbury into extra time.

Canterbury went on to win in that extra time to claim a Finals spot.