Japan not Highlanders next step for Herring

Former Otago coach Ben Herring is heading to Japan for the next step in his coaching career, passing up a chance to apply for the vacant job at the Highlanders.

Herring is living in Wanaka with wife Wal and their four children after what has been an eventful past few months.

Herring (40) finished up with Otago at the end of the 2019 season with his eye on taking the family to the United States for a year, travelling around the country in a motor home.

Herring said the trip went well and they spent some time in Texas and then headed to New York in March.

But, just as they arrived, the city started to close down.

"We were the last people up on the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building. But things were not great so we decided to go to Boston." he said.

"We had five days in a national park but they were closing them down so we thought we had to start looking at going home."

Herring admitted it was a stressful time but it was good to get back to New Zealand.

The family went to Piha for a period but have now relocated to Wanaka, where they have rented a house, and Herring said they loved living in the town.

He was off to Japan to coach and was set to leave in a couple of weeks. He declined to say what club he was joining. He would be an assistant coach for the side he was joining, which was in the Japan Top League.

Herring has coached in Japan twice before and the second time around he was defence coach for the Sunwolves and also the Japanese national team.

But he had come back to Otago to coach the blue and golds for a couple of seasons, reaching the playoffs both times.

The Highlanders were on the look-out for a defence coach with the departure of Aaron Mauger.

Herring may appear to be a logical fit but he said he was committed to the Japanese role.

His family would stay in Wanaka for the first season of his stint in Japan.

The Japanese season is set to begin in January.

Herring said Japan was a great place to coach as it helped with your communication skills and man management.

He said the nature of professional rugby meant coaches had to go here and there to get jobs.

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