Wanderlust taking Otago coach out of picture

Otago coach Ben Herring at training at Logan Park earlier this week. Photo: Peter McIntosh
Otago coach Ben Herring at training at Logan Park. Photo: Peter McIntosh
Otago coach Ben Herring is to leave his post after this season, heading for a family trip around the United States.

He may, though, have the next Otago coach sitting next to him when he coaches this season.

Herring (39) confirmed this season would be his second and final one as Otago coach.

He was not moving to another union or coaching job but had coached for 10 years and wanted to do something different for a year.

Herring is married to Wal and they have four children: daughters Huxley (10) and Eckhart (5) and sons Rocket (7) and Boom (1).

Ben Herring
Ben Herring

The children were just the right age to travel and they were looking at renting a motor home and travelling around the United States for a year. The plan was to land in Texas and chase the sun for a year.

Herring said he was looking forward to having some quality family time.

Part of the family plan was to give coaching 10 years and then take a break and he was sticking with that.

He said there was no real plan for after the year off and it was up in the air whether he would return to coaching.

''We will see what we are at ... but I still have ambitions as a coach. As a coach, though, I think as you age you get better as a coach. As you get older and live your life, then you get wiser and become a better leader,'' he said.

''This has been a bucket-list-type adventure which we are all excited to take. The Otago region is a place we have a lot of fantastic memories and in time we will no doubt make a return. I intend to put my all into this coming season, and help grow the team on and off the field.''

His family liked to travel and this was a great opportunity, he said. He had previously travelled around the United States with his wife and they had wanted to repeat that with his family.

This season with Otago was shaping up well, he said, and was in a planning stage. A few players were training with members of the academy and other players as the season started to get close.

The first game for Otago would be a Ranfurly Shield defence against Thames Valley on July 13, in Wanaka.

Otago Rugby Football Union general manager Richard Kinley said the process to replace Herring should take place next month and into July.

It was his preference to have the new coach appointed before the season started.

He said it was obviously disappointing to lose Herring but he could understand his reasons in wanting to move on.

The union would have Tom Donnelly, Ryan Martin and Lee Allan assisting Herring this season.

Donnelly will be in his third year as assistant and may have ambitions to move into the head role.

Martin was the longtime coach of the Otago Boys' High School First XV and has just finished coaching the Asia Pacific Dragons in Singapore. He has ambitions to coach at the professional level and was the attack coach for the Otago team last year in his first season.

Allan played more than 30 times for Otago before retiring because of concussion in 2017.

He has helped coach Otago and also coached Otago Country last year.

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