Karina just feels right coaching Zingari-Richmond

New Zingari-Richmond premier coach Karina Nafatali at Montecillo yesterday with players (from...
New Zingari-Richmond premier coach Karina Nafatali at Montecillo yesterday with players (from left) Karl Still, Jack Wolfreys and Matt McCormick. PHOTO: GERARD O'BRIEN
Zingari-Richmond has turned to a woman to help revive its fortunes next year.

The Montecillo club, home to former All Black coach Eric Watson and former All Black prop Keith Murdoch, has appointed a female premier coach for next season.

Karina Nafatali (49) will take on the job, and she has full support from both the club and the players.

The former Otago Spirit loose forward has no qualms about taking on the role and had a connection with a lot of the players and the club.

"It is change for me and the club but it is positive change. I know a lot of the players and they know my coaching style.

"I have been involved in the game for a long time and my family have been involved in the club a long time. My late brother, Mark, he was a member of the Zingari team back in 2000, when they last made a final."

It is believed to be the first time a female has coached a premier rugby team in Dunedin.

She said being a female would not be a hindrance.

A teacher at Kaikorai Valley College, she had coached the school's first XV, many of whose members now play up at the club.

She had coached the Pirates women's and the University women's team to banners and is also the Otago Spirit assistant coach.

She said the appointment just felt right.

"I was coaching with the Spirit and then went up to a camp with some of the Black Ferns. Then I got asked about this. It just all sort of happened together."

Zingari-Richmond chairman Stephen Baughan said the club had approached Ms Nafatali after the players had wanted her to coach the side.

He felt she was well respected both at the club and around Dunedin.

Zingari-Richmond won just one game last season and finished bottom of the table.


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