New coaches named to take Mako reins
Showing confidence in its current talent pool Tasman rugby has resisted the urge to cast its net in announcing next year’s Mako coaching team.
Following last month’s 21-16 loss to Canterbury in the Mitre 10 Cup premiership semi-final, head coach Leon MacDonald heads to Auckland to take up a three-year deal as assistant and attack coach at the Blues.
His departure has seen assistant coaches Andrew Goodman and Clarke Dermody promoted to joint head coach roles.
Assistant coach Shane Christie will take responsibility for the forwards, while Red Devils,Tasman B and Marlborough Boys College 1st XV coach Gray Cornelius - the sole newcomer to the coaching team - has been named as backs and attack coach.
A three-test All Black and former Southland captain, Dermody joined the Mako this year following four seasons with the Southland Stags between 2014-17.
He also spent a season in Japan coaching the Sanix Blues in 2014.
Goodman was pleased to welcome Cornelius to the Mako setup, given his proven track record at age-group and representative level.
‘‘He’s a local lad and it’s going to be awesome having someone based over in Blenheim looking over the wider training group but also coming out to Nelson to run the academy skills as well he’s done a great job with Marlborough Boys’ especially in the last few years and I’m really looking forward to having him on board.’’
Save for overseas playing stints in Ireland and Japan, Goodman has been involved with the Makos since their 2006 formation.
He said thanks to the legacies of coaching predecessors like MacDonald, a culture within the team had developed which inspired a winning attitude among players and staff.
‘‘I’m very passionate about the region and I’ve been through some hard times with the union, so it’s great to be on the other side of things now and see where the province has come with all the young kids now growing up aspiring to play for the Mako.’’
While MacDonald’s presence would be sorely missed at the Mako, Goodman believed he was inheriting a team in good shape to finally secure a maiden premiership title.
‘‘We’ve been picking Rangi’s brains ever since he’s been here, firstly as a player myself but last three years as an assistant, just taking in as much as I can because obviously he’s been a big part of why we’ve been so successful over the last few years.’’
‘‘I’ve got my little notebook that I’ve been jotting ideas down - he’s imparted a lot of knowledge on us so hopefully we can use that to make sure the province is successful in years to come.’’
Results of the team’s 2018 reviews would be available to management in the coming days, which would allow them to pinpoint some focus areas for next year. ‘‘I don’t think there’s too much we need to change in the way we play ... we just have to keep getting better and see how we can keep moving forward as a union, get results and try and knock it over and get that W at the end of the year.’’ With the provincial season done and dusted, Goodman and Dermody will return to their Super Rugby roles with the Crusaders and Highlanders respectively at the end of the month. Christie and Cornelius will hold the fort in their cocoaches absence.
Mako co-coach Andrew Goodman is keen to finally deliver a maiden premiership title for the Tasman faithful in partnership with Clarke Dermody (inset).