Flutey arrives to take up coaching role

New Highlanders skills coach Riki Flutey casts his eye over the setup at training at Logan Park...
New Highlanders skills coach Riki Flutey casts his eye over the setup at training at Logan Park yesterday. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
Riki Flutey has been around.

Dunedin is just the latest stop in what has been a globe-trotting career for the former England international.

Flutey, who turns 39 next month, has started as the Highlanders skills coach, as he continues his move into coaching.

Flutey's playing career took him from Super Rugby to England and France, a period in which he played for England and also went on the 2009 British and Irish Lions tour to South Africa in 2009. He ended his playing career with a spell in Japan playing for the Ricoh Black Rams and then headed back to Wellington

"I had done a couple of coaching papers when I was playing and I was keen to get coaching, but first I had to get a job in the real world. So I linked up with Carters in Wellington and got a job in the building industry,'' he said.

"So I have done three years with them in Wellington. And at the same time I started coaching with the Petone prems and then did the Wellington development team. Then I started coaching in the Wellington under-19 team. That is a big programme and I really enjoyed coaching those boys.''

Coaching at the amateur level was a great way to start and you had to be resourceful, Flutey said.

"It was exactly what I thought it was going to be like. You learn a lot. You are not just the coach. You are a mentor, a physiotherapist. You are doing defence and attack. I learnt so much.''

Flutey said he had a five-year plan to get into coaching but was happy where he was, working in Wellington, until Highlanders coach Aaron Mauger came calling.

The two men had first played together in age-grade New Zealand teams when teenagers and had kept in touch.

Mauger called Flutey and in the end the former inside back could not turn the offer down.

"You get the opportunity to coach Super Rugby players, world-class players, and then [there are] the high-calibre coaches you are working with. That is massive for me.''

Flutey only started last week and he had plenty to get his head around but he was enjoying it so far.

The game had changed since he played and for the better.

"My generation that I played with did not have the same amount of coaches and resources that they have now. They have someone in now that really nails down something like the catch and pass - the amount of detail that goes into the skill - and they work hard on it. It is a big part of the game for players at this level. There is a lot more skill focus ... with the extra resources you have you can nail down the detail.''

Flutey has left his wife and four children - a daughter and three sons - in Wellington for the season, though he said they would come south at different times during the year. He has signed an initial one-year contract.

Flutey had previously spent time in Dunedin only when he came south to play rugby.

"So all I saw was hotels, Carisbrook and the bars. But it is a beautiful city. It is similar to Wellington with the hills and the green spaces.''

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