Coaching hope for ex-All Black Clarke Dermody
Former All Blacks prop Clarke Dermody concedes his rise in the coaching ranks has been more rapid than expected but he is loving his current roles.
Dermody played 92 games for Southland, 44 for the Highlanders, and three tests for the All Blacks before he headed to the United Kingdom in 2007 to join the London Irish club, which he ended up captaining.
In 2012, Dermody retired from all rugby because of a back injury and he returned home to Invercargill with his wife, Sarah, and children Carter and Maggie.
He returned with the hope of stepping into the coaching ranks, potential as a scrummaging specialist but at the time he was not sure whether there would be the opportunities available to pursue that line of work.
Two years on and the 34-year-old is well and truly entrenched in the coaching game.
He has been appointed the Highlanders' scrum coach, which has him travelling to Dunedin two or three times a week to work with the Super Rugby side.
On Friday, Dermody returned from a two-week stint in Japan, where he was working with the Sanix club, which includes former New Zealand Super Rugby props Ben May and Jacob Ellison on its books.
Sanix is Highlanders coach Jamie Joseph's former club and he arranged for Dermody to spend some time working with Sanix on their scrum while the Highlanders were in South Africa.
Dermody has also been appointed assistant coach for the Stags in this year's national provincial championship campaign, with the other assistant being his former Stags team-mate Hoani Macdonald.
Head coach Brad Mooar has handed Dermody the scrum and breakdown areas to look after during the Stags campaign.
He said he was excited to be back involved with the Stags, even if it has happened a bit quicker than he first had considered.
"It was obviously always one of my goals but it probably has come around a year or two earlier than I would have hoped, but it's one of those opportunities you can't turn down," he said about the Stags position.
"The team we've got together with Brad and Hoon [Macdonald] we are all pretty keen to learn off each other, especially Brad.
"He's got some good ideas and he's pretty switched on and open to sharing ideas with us."
Dermody was delighted with the way the Highlanders scrum was going and was enjoying that role.
He praised the efforts of his former Highlanders propping partner Chris King on the tighthead side and said rookie loosehead Kane Hames' progress had been outstanding.
"It's great to do what he's done in his first year of Super Rugby. He's the perfect storm for a prop, he's strong, quite stocky, flexible and has a good technique. I'd say he's surprised a few people in Super Rugby; he's toweled a few people up."
To help with Dermody's development as a coach he has been selected in the new Sport Southland coaching development programme.
Sport Southland and Academy Southland have partnered with Sport New Zealand to run a pilot programme in Southland for a Regional Coach Development programme.
Dermody felt it would be a good tool to help him get better.
"It will be good to be exposed to different sports coaches, obviously coaching is a generic thing but I've only even known rugby.
"So if there is anything that you can take out of say swimming or basketball might do that's got to be good, I'm sure there are things that cross over with coaching."