Brown 'a better coach now'

Tony Brown has signed for two seasons with the Highlanders. Photo: ODT files
Tony Brown has signed for two seasons with the Highlanders. Photo: ODT files
Tony Brown believes he is a better coach than the last time he was in charge of the Highlanders.

Brown (45) was yesterday announced as the new head coach of the franchise for the next two years.

He takes over from Aaron Mauger, who left the franchise after three years in charge.

Brown was head coach in 2017, taking over from Jamie Joseph. At the time he took the job rather reluctantly.

But he is fully on board this time, signing a two year deal with the Highlanders before heading to Japan in 2023.

"It is a pretty exciting opportunity again. Probably last time when the job came up I wasn’t really enthusiastic about taking the job. [I] always thought the biggest influence for me on the team was driving the attack. Myself personally, trying to become the best attack coach in the world was my goal," Brown said.

"It has been three years now and I just feel I am a better coach now. I took over the Sunwolves, head coach there, and learnt a lot from that experience.

"Being involved with the World Cup with Japan — from what we did and being successful there, put me in a pretty good position that I am confident I will develop into a quality head coach."

Head coaching roles have changed over the past decade and now it is seen as almost a chief executive-type role, with more time being spent in the office than on the training field.

But Brown still wants to get out on the paddock at practice.

"I still think my biggest influence on the team is on the grass, driving the game, how we play the game.

"There is a lot of different ways to operate as a head coach. How I coach next year will still be on the field and how we play the game. The second part is how to manage the environment and making sure we are all heading in the same direction."

He revealed the Highlanders had looked at another head coach but he was not available, so Brown took the job. He declined to say who that coach was, but head coaches are hard to get and do not come cheap.

With Brown’s promotion, Clarke Dermody has moved into the forwards coaching role and Brown said he was developing into a good coach.

"Derms [Dermody] has developed into an outstanding forward coach. He did an amazing job at the back end of the Aotearoa competition — looking to push on from there to a new level.

Riki Flutey would do skills and some attack, while the Highlanders would go to the market to find a defence coach.

"If there is one part of our game that needs to improve, and to win the competition, it has to be the defence side.

"Any side that is within a shout of winning the competition has to have the best defence in the competition. That is our challenge to find the right man and get the players to buy into the systems."

Tony Brown

Vital statistics
Age: 45
Player
All Black 12 tests, Highlanders 91, Otago 80, Sharks 8, Stormers 7
Coach
2012-14: Otago (head coach)
2014-16: Highlanders (assistant)
2017: Highlanders (head coach)
2018-present: Japan (assistant)
2019: Sunwolves (head coach)
2020: Highlanders (assistant)
2021: Highlanders (head coach)

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