Super-coach Dick Tonks mulls over next step

IAN ANDERSON
Last updated 05:00 25/09/2012
Dick Tonks
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SUPER COACH: New Zealand rowing's Dick Tonks.

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Rowing NZ is pondering a switch in roles for super-coach Dick Tonks.

Tonks is the current head coach of the Rowing NZ elite programme but may move sideways to ensure he continues to oversee the success of the boats he also coaches.

Rowing NZ chief executive Simon Peterson said the organisation was in negotiations with Tonks, whose current contract came to an end after the London Olympics.

Peterson said Tonks had indicated his willingness to continue with Rowing NZ but with impending plans to increase the squad size as they build towards the 2016 Olympics, his expertise might be best utilised with a number of individual boats.

"The thing I'm discussing with him is how our programme has grown so much in four years," Peterson said.

"And that being the head coach that he has been, and coaching four of his own crews, is not necessarily sustainable.

"In some countries, the head coach doesn't coach anyone - he just manages the coaches."

Tonks coached men's single sculls star Mahe Drysdale and the unbeatable men's pair of Hamish Bond and Eric Murray to gold in London, while women's single sculler Emma Twigg was fourth and the young women's quad won the B final.

"He's an on-the-water coach, that's his strength," Peterson said.

"I don't think that the head coach role, across 11, 12 or 13 crews, is really his strength or his desire.

"But I won't know that answer until I've negotiated with him about what his specific role is."

Tonks has coached an Olympic winner in four successive Games, guiding Rob Waddell to single sculls gold in Sydney 2000, and helping Caroline and Georgina Evers-Swindell win in Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008.

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