New leadership for Canterbury's No 1 rugby league side

Former Keas player Iuma Mulitalo will co-coach the Linwood Keas in 2020. Photo: Supplied
Former Keas player Iuma Mulitalo will co-coach the Linwood Keas in 2020. Photo: Supplied
Iuma Mulitalo says he and his fellow new Linwood Keas premier co-coach, Agaese Fiso, are facing a big challenge maintaining the high standards the side set on the field last season.

It seems fitting that two men will be needed to replace four-time title winning Canterbury coach Andrew Auimatagi, who stepped away from his role with the Keas after the 2019 final.

Auimatagi was in charge for eight years but chose to continue with his Canterbury Bulls commitments, while freeing up time to try and land more national coaching appointments.

Mulitalo said as far as he knew, with such a daunting legacy to continue they were the only two who applied for the Keas job.

“We’ve obviously been very successful for a long time now,” Mulitalo said.

“This club is a family and we know those standards must be maintained.”

Both co-coaches were part of four Keas premier title teams as players in 2008 and 2016, 2017 and 2018 before coaching the Linwood Reserve team to a championship in their first attempt last season.

Mulitalo played more than 150 premier games at prop, while Fiso is a former captain and back-rower who played for more than a decade.

“It’s up to us to maintain the culture,” Mulitalo said.

“It’s a brotherhood - we were all on one side of it (as players) and now we are on the other side trying to continue the great work Andrew has done.”

Former Keas captain Agaese Fiso, who retired two seasons ago, will also co-coach the team this...
Former Keas captain Agaese Fiso, who retired two seasons ago, will also co-coach the team this year. Photo: Supplied
Mulitalo said watching from the sideline initially did not come easily after years of playing.

“I definitely struggled not being out there every week.

“We know our players pretty well, we’ve played with many of them so we just want to keep things going.

“You have to put your coaches hat on, we can’t be mates (with players).

“We put our hands up for the role because we want to continue on the legacy.

Mulitalo said it would be a very settled squad this year based on pre-season training.

“Most of the guys have returned and there is plenty of fire in the belly for them to continue to achieve big things this year.

They won’t be the only coaching changes this year, with Jason Martin taking over the top job at the Halswell Hornets from Rob Faalio.

The Northern Bulldogs will also have a new coach with Brent Ringdahl taking the helm, replacing Sam Brown.

Ex Papanui Tigers player John Tafua will take over the club’s premier team and be assisted by Poasa Alaifea.

The Celebration Lions will have a new coach after Steve Fenika resigned but who that will be remains a mystery.

 

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