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I hear you are a Cantabrian who found his way to North Harbour?
I went up to North Harbour when I was 17 or 18 and played rugby for East Coast Bays, I met my wife (Vanessa) through there as she played for North Harbour.
I was a hooker and played division one up there, made some trial teams but that was my level and we were there for 10 years.
We came back to Christchurch on a six-month trial about 18 years ago.
How was your childhood?
I grew up down here and went to Shirley Boys’ High School.
Back then, things were a bit different, I got out of there at 15, school wasn’t my thing.
I only passed one subject – English. I never went to the other exams. I’d realised I probably wasn’t going to pass (school cert) so I’d better get a job. I actually got a job before the end of that year.
I didn’t tell Mum so I’d get dressed up in my school gear walk to the end of the road, get changed and then I worked for a guy who was a monumental mason as a labourer.
At the end of the day he’d drop me off at the end of the street and I’d get change back into my school gear and come home.
How did the chance to go north come about?
I got offered a job truck driving and I ended up playing rugby as part of that.
North Harbour had Slade McFarland (former New ZealandMaori hooker) who would beat me into the rep teams.
I was going to come home after a couple of years because I hadn’t made it in the North Harbour set up but I had a friend who wanted me to stay and he offered me a job at an emporium business which was great because I was sick of truck driving by that point.
When did you hang up the boots and start to look at coaching?
It was only when I looked at it when we came back in the early 2000s, I was in my mid-30s and we didn’t know anyone so
I opened up the phone book where we were living in Avonhead and looked for the closest rugby club which happened to be Burnside.
I played one year for them and it was just to meet some guys and the team ended up winning.
The next year I was pretty broken physically and the senior B team needed a coach so I thought I’d help out and I did that for a couple of years and I realised it was a lot of fun and I kept doing it a few years.
One year we made a semi-final and that’s when I started to get a lot of satisfaction out of it.
Tell me about the move to Lincoln University?
It was 2015 and we had been living out there a while and it was time for a change.
It just made sense at the time.
Talk me through the progression there?
I was coaching the colts team and it was a great crop of guys.
That first year we had Jordie Barrett, Ene Enari, Brett Cameron, George Straton, Salisi Riasi, Caleb Makene, Josh McKay, a real who’s who of Canterbury players who have really pushed on now.
Cullen Grace is one of the best products I’ve seen, he came straight out of school into our Div 1 team and played every game so he is one to watch.
We won colts titles in 2015 and 2016 and then in 2017 I took over the senior team with Ben Blair and we won that in 2017 and 2018 the team did a four-peat of senior titles and at the end of the year, a lot of the guys, I had a connection with were moving on so I thought it was a good time to step away.
What is it like to coach a team that’s expected to win each week?
I enjoyed it, I said to the guys not to shy away from it but embrace it and when you’d see the joy when teams would beat us, I thought it was great too.
Their advantage is they train there, they have the facilities that make it feel like a very professional environment.
After that I’d had a guts full of coaching but I had a good mate at Burnside in Graeme Turner who got me back into the club with the senior team which was a good fit for me at the time.
I have a very supportive wife who’s always backed my desire to coach so this year between the Crusaders Knights, Burnside and Canterbury B, I’ve done more coaching than I thought I would.
When you do get spare time, what do you do?
I like to do a bit of fishing and we have a few friends with baches that give us a chance to get away.
As a guy in my early 50s I’m reasonably realistic about where I can go with my coaching.
There’s a liking for former players at the moment and that makes sense because they know the environment but I love new challenges and seeing players get everything out of the talent they have.
There’s a heaps of guys running around playing NPC that I’ve had a hand in coaching or being around at some point and that’s immensely satisfying.
I don’t have any plans on slowing down and I’ll be back on the sidelines next year all going well.