Writers for allblacks.com have had a crack at a ‘Coaches XV’ which includes current Mitre 10 Cup or Farah Palmer Cup coaches who previously played in their respective provincial competitions.
1. Clarke Dermody (Tasman co-coach – Mitre 10 Cup)
Born in Invercargill and a former student of Southland Boys’ High School, Clarke Dermody played three Tests for the All Blacks in 2006. He played close to 100 games for Southland and 44 games for the Highlanders before going overseas. He’s been a Highlanders assistant coach since 2014 and is the current head coach alongside Andrew Goodman at Tasman.
2. Grant Henson (Counties assistant coach – Mitre 10 Cup)
Grant Henson played his 100th game for Counties Manukau in 2011. In his first year for Counties in 1998, he played alongside the likes of Jonah Lomu, Joeli Vidiri and Errol Brain. The former hooker has been assistant coach of his beloved Steelers for close to a decade and coached under Tana Umaga for a couple of seasons.
3. Mel Bosman (Tasman head coach – Farah Palmer Cup)
Mel Bosman (nee Ngatai) made 17 appearances for the Black Ferns between 2004 and 2010, including two World Cups. Bosman played provincial rugby from 1995 to 2014 for Waikato, Auckland, Canterbury, and Hawke’s Bay. She’s been coaching female rugby in Tasman since 2017.
4. Jarrad Hoeata (Taranaki assistant coach – Mitre 10 Cup)
A former All Black, Maori All Black and Highlander, Hoeata only just called time on his 15 year professional career last season. He’s now the Taranaki Academy Manager and is part of the Chiefs Under 18 and Under 20 coaching group. He’s also working alongside Chiefs forwards coach Neil Barnes at the Taranaki Bulls.
5. Tom Donnelly (Otago head coach – Mitre 10 Cup)
A 15-Test All Black, Tom Donnelly took over the head coaching reigns with Otago this year after joining the coaching staff in 2017. He played 82 games for the Highlanders, 65 for Otago and also had stints with the Blues and Crusaders before playing in France. Donnelly was part of the 2013 Otago side which lifted the Ranfurly Shield for the first time in 56 years and he’s just coached his team to the same feat again over Taranaki.
6. Reuben Thorne (Canterbury co-coach – Mitre 10 Cup)
Thorne was appointed Canterbury co-coach alongside Mark Brown at the end of last year. The former All Black skipper gave Canterbury and the Crusaders exemplary service for more than a decade between 1997 and 2008. He played 50 Tests for the All Blacks and was awarded the captaincy role in 2002.
7. Cheryl Smith (nee Waaka) (Northland head coach – Farah Palmer Cup)
Cheryl Smith played provincial rugby for Auckland and Northland, as well as 20 games for the Black Ferns. She was in the squad that won the 1998 and 2002 World Cup. In 2005, Smith became the first woman in Northland to coach a senior men’s club rugby team. She was appointed head coach of the Northland Kauri alongside assistant and fellow former Black Fern Susan Dawson, ahead of their debut season in the Farah Palmer Cup in 2019.
8. Melissa Ruscoe (Canterbury assistant coach – Farah Palmer Cup)
A talented sportswoman, Melissa Ruscoe represented New Zealand in football before switching to rugby in 2003. After playing just one year for Canterbury in the NPC, she made the Black Ferns and won the World Cup in 2006. In 2010, she captained the Black Ferns to World Cup victory. The following year, Ruscoe was appointed a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to women’s rugby.
9. Billy Guyton (Tasman assistant coach – Farah Palmer Cup)
A nippy halfback, Billy Guyton played 52 games for the Mako, as well as 29 games for North Otago. He played Super Rugby for the Hurricanes, Crusaders and Blues. Guyton moved into coaching after retirement from playing and assisted at Waimea Old Boys last season. He was the head coach of Central this year and joins Mel Bosman at Tasman in the Farah Palmer Cup.
10. Anna Richards (Auckland assistant coach – Farah Palmer Cup)
A Black Ferns legend, Anna Richards played 49 games for the Black Ferns and was a member of the Auckland Storm side that went undefeated from 1994 to 2005. Richards was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2005 and she was inducted into the World Rugby Hall of Fame in 2014. She was appointed the first Female Player Development Manager at Auckland Rugby and joined Richie Walker as assistant coach of the Storm last year.
11. George Konia (Northland head coach – Mitre 10 Cup)
George Konia was a member of the original Hurricanes squad in 1996 and was selected in the side after several strong seasons with Manawatu. A powerful centre, Konia could also be a handful on the wing. He was a New Zealand Maori player and was on stand-by for the All Blacks for the 1995 Rugby World Cup. He ended up playing international rugby for Japan and coaching there professionally for 13 years. Konia has had two stints with the Northland Taniwha. He was assistant coach in 2013 and 2014 before rejoining Derren Whitcombe again in 2018. He was appointed head coach at the end of last year.
12. Tamati Ellison (Wellington assistant coach – Mitre 10 Cup)
Tamati Ellison is in his first year as assistant coach of the Lions, looking after the backline, having debuted for them as a player back in 2003. He played four Tests for the All Blacks, over 50 Super Rugby games and was part of the New Zealand Sevens team that won Commonwealth Games gold in Melbourne. Ellison recently returned from Japan, where he was a player-coach of Top League side Kurita Water Gush.
13. Alama Ieremia (Auckland head coach – Mitre 10 Cup)
Alama Ieremia is in his third season as Auckland head coach, having led the blue and white hoops to a famous title in his first year in 2018. He played provincial rugby with Wellington between 1992 and 2000 and Super Rugby with the Hurricanes from 1996 to 2001. He played 30 Tests for the All Blacks and after retiring from playing in 2004, took up a coaching role with Suntory Sungoliath in Japan. After returning to New Zealand, Ieremia had assistant coaching roles at Wellington and the Hurricanes before becoming head coach of Manu Samoa.
14. Willie Rickards (Taranaki head coach – Mitre 10 Cup)
Rickards made his provincial rugby playing debut for Southland during the 2006 NPC and spent three seasons with the Stags before moving back north to Taranaki. He had a brief stint with the Highlanders in Super Rugby, before retiring from playing in 2012. He quickly took Southern to their first ever premier club title and then led the Taranaki sevens side to their first national title in decades. He moved into the assistant coaching role under Colin Cooper before becoming the Bulls head coach in 2018.
15. Mike Delany (Bay of Plenty assistant coach – Mitre 10 Cup)
A Bay of Plenty Steamers stalwart, Mike Delany is now giving back to his beloved province in the coaching space. He played 77 games for the Steamers and one Test for the All Blacks in a professional playing career that spanned 13 years. He had Super Rugby stints with the Chiefs, Highlanders and Crusaders, before playing in Japan, France, and the UK. He is also one of the assistant coaches of the New Zealand Under 20s side, under Craig Philpott.