Union happy with input from players

Rugby Southland had no qualms in having senior players interview prospective head coaches.

Southland appointed a new coach, Dale MacLeod, last week. He takes over from Dave Hewett who stood down after two years with the team.

MacLeod, who was an assistant coach to Hewett, was one of 16 candidates for the job.

He has been contracted for the next two seasons and has an optional renewal in 2022.

The selection process was thorough, with the first round of interviews being conducted by a select panel, including Rugby Southland general manager Brian Hopley and former Southland player and coach Murray Brown.

The list was then shortened to two candidates who were presented to two panels.

One panel consisted of former Southland player and coach David Henderson and New Zealand Rugby South Island coach development manager Dave Perin.

The other panel consisted of four current senior players of the Southland team.

Hopley said he was comfortable with having the senior players interview the prospective coaches, and let them get a sense of the new coach.

He felt it was good to get some feedback from the players.

''They have to work with this person and they could see if it is going to be a good fit or not a good fit,'' Hopley said.

Some weight was given to what the players said in making the coaching appointment.

It is rare for players to have such direct input into the appointment of a coach.

Players may be consulted on the coach through mid-season and end-of-season reviews but to go the next step and appoint a panel of players to talk to prospective coaches is not common.

MacLeod had been the assistant coach for the Northland Mitre 10 Cup team and helped with the Blues development side before heading south in 2017.

Hopley said the union was talking with MacLeod about his assistants and they would be named in the next few weeks.

Southland finished bottom of the Mitre 10 Cup championship section but did win a game, beating Counties-Manukau 42-14. It had not won a game for the two previous seasons.

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