Loss of coaches a 'body blow': Highlanders boss

Roger Clark
Roger Clark. Photo: ODT files
A body blow for the All Blacks.

That's how longstanding Highlanders chief executive Roger Clark has described the loss of Jamie Joseph, Tony Brown and Dave Rennie to rival international teams.

The hunt for an All Black coach has been shaped by Joseph signing on again for Japan, taking Brown with him, and Rennie's decision to take the Wallabies job.

Brown will continue as Aaron Mauger's assistant at the Highlanders for three years, something Clark was celebrating. But he also admitted New Zealand Rugby might have an issue with it because a foreign coach would be privy to intellectual property.

Clark said the coaching drain was a big issue.

"I'm biased as an All Blacks fan - I think it's pretty disappointing," Clark told Radio Sport's D'Arcy Waldegrave.

"It is a body blow. We can't afford to be losing coaches of the level of those three that we've just lost in the last week to our environment.

"But that's the world market we're in. We've developed outstanding coaches. We've seen that the international market is insatiable in grabbing those guys away from us."

Clark said Joseph had proved "second to none" in building a strong environment, and pointed to how he had learnt from his own mistakes at the Highlanders to create a title winning team in 2015. He credited subsequent success to the foundation Joseph laid.

Clark said: "He's a bloody capable businessman and negotiator and part of building good teams and environments, especially in challenging situations like Japan, is to get the best out of everybody around you. He does a fantastic job of that.

"It's hard to believe that they could have a better run than this year … I don't doubt that Jamie and Brownie will make hell of a difference over the next four years."

Clark had no issue with Brown coaching Japan and the Highlanders, saying he had held the dual role previously and was an excellent time manager. The international window was placed after the Super Rugby season.

He explained that Brown was employed by the Highlanders, and not New Zealand Rugby.

"I'm sure they have," Clark said, when asked if NZR might worry about Brown's inside knowledge.

"But it's not something they get a say on way or other on. It [Brown staying with Japan] may be disappointing for New Zealand fans but at the end of the day we've got to make sure we keep our top talent for New Zealand teams as well."



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