Bond is Norths’ secret weapon
Ross Bond rubs his hands when he talks about the talent at his disposal in his new role as Northern United premier coach.
In charge of Poneke from 1998 to 2004, he won the Jubilee Cup in 2003 as his teams made five finals during his tenure. He was on the wrong end of the 20-18 scoreline in 2004, as Poneke fell to Norths, when the Porirua outfit won its first title and went on to cast a large shadow over the club rugby scene.
‘‘ The two clubs have had a reasonably good relationship, they’re quite tight, so it wasn’t a huge stretch for me to put my hand up for this [Norths coach].
‘‘When I was at [ITM Cup side] Horowhenua-kapiti I used a lot of the Norths players, guys like Rob Aloe and Anare Koliavu, so it’s always been somewhere I’ve had a connection to.’’
Bond was at HorowhenuaKapiti for two stints, between 2005 and 2009, and has been involved with the Wellington under-20s for the past two years. He could also be heard on the Saturday afternoon rugby show on Newstalk ZB and recently took up a job as general manager of Shandon Golf Club.
The affable and candid coach said he had applied for other jobs higher than the club rugby level but was told he needed more experience under his belt.
‘‘I feel comfortable here already, Porirua Park is a great facility and I like the family, community feel. I love the way Norths play rugby – in my time at Poneke I was envious of the talent produced here and I really want to contribute.’’
He is meeting players this month, with pre-season under way in January. Bond knows of rumours swirling about who Frank Rees has taken to Petone and who is staying but insists the talent pool and depth that exists can cater for whatever personnel losses they may incur.
The club consistently loses players at the representative stage of the season anyway, so a good coach must know how to manage that, he said.
Making wholesale changes and a ‘my way or the highway’ philos- ophy is not his style and he is content to bed in slowly, using a full pre-season campaign – at least four games are planned – to put structures in place and allow ‘‘the cream to come to the top’’.
He has no intention of suppressing the natural flair and running, open style that has made Norths the most feared premier side in the region.
A closer relationship with the first team coach, better contact with the Porirua basin’s colleges and utilising the likes of Lions star Alapati Leiua are among his priorities.
‘‘I’m not a closed book coach and nor do I want the top team to be a closed shop. I’ll be working with the other coaches while I hope guys like Alapati, who you won’t see for much of the season, are involved as well.’’
Wanting to stay out of the politics that exists at every rugby club, Bond is more than aware of the expectation Norths have among its faithful. Victories are due from the first match on April 7.
‘‘I haven’t come here to come second.’’
New colours: He might be new to the blue of Northern United but Ross Bond’s experience around the traps should win over his new charges soon enough.