Murray: New coach will make us stronger

Eric Murray, left, and Hamish Bond.
Eric Murray, left, and Hamish Bond.

Olympic gold medalist Eric Murray hopes his new coach can build on his success with Hamish Bond, while pulling others up towards their level.

Australia's Noel Donaldson was yesterday named as Rowing New Zealand's new coach of the men's sweep oar programme as the organisation aims to strengthen their ranks with the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro the major target.

The Kiwi men's pair won gold in London last year, culminating a four-year unbeaten run, and Murray would like that dominance to continue under Donaldson, who made his name in the 1990s as coach of the Australian men's coxless four "Oarsome Foursome" that won gold at consecutive Olympics.

The pair has previously been coached by RNZ's head coach Dick Tonks, who is now overseeing the women's programme.

"Obviously Dick instilled in us a training philosophy which is second to none," Murray said.

"We've got to take that and use the expertise of somebody else - maybe we get technically better. Rowing looks pretty easy but there are some subtle differences.

"One thing that we could probably do better is the communication between ourselves and the coach to make it a little bit more enjoyable. When you're doing the hard yards you want it to be slightly enjoyable otherwise you start questioning why you're doing it."

Murray said he doesn't know Donaldson well.

"I've only bumped into him briefly overseas at different regattas but I've never really had a chance to sit down and have a chat with him. I think everything's going to be very fresh and very new.

"You don't want to make an opinion before you start knowing the guy. I guess in the next little while we'll sit down and have a chat and see what he wants to do, and hopefully we can say 'well this is what we feel has been working well, how can we make it better?'

"We want to keep winning so how we can keep doing that?"

Murray said Donaldson's coaching resume, which features a host of Olympic medals with Australian crews, made him an obvious target for Rowing NZ, which wants to field crews in all 14 classes at Rio 2016.

"He's coached some very good crews in the past. I guess the one thing that Rowing NZ were looking for was someone to develop the programme on the men's side.

"That's really what we need - someone to bring on a whole bunch of people so that by the end of this Olympic cycle we can field a crew in every boat.

"We've had some okay sweep crews that have been thereabouts, but it's about putting out consistently good crews and more of them. Hopefully Noel will be able to do that like he's been able to do with Australia - we need him to bring the expertise that he's used over there and adapt it to how we do things in New Zealand."

Donaldson, 57, was previously elite development manager for Rowing Australia after being head coach and high performance director. He also coached the Australian men's coxless pair to a bronze at the 2000 Sydney Olympics and as head coach at Athens in 2004, the country's crews won a gold, a silver and a bronze medal.

Rowing NZ high performance manager Alan Cotter said recruiting a coach of high calibre was a priority.

"Noel is going to be a huge asset for Rowing New Zealand," Cotter said.

"We were looking for someone who had achieved results as a head coach in sweep oar boats, had worked successfully in a high performance programme, had the ability to develop, lead and maintain a strong team culture - and Noel has all of these attributes.''

Donaldson will join Tonks and men's sculling coach Calvin Ferguson as the three chief coaches at Rowing NZ.

He arrives in New Zealand next week during the national trials, from which a team will be selected to contest the opening World Cup regatta of the year in Sydney from March 22-24.

CHAMPS: Hamish Bond, left, and Eric Murray, after winning gold at the Olympic.
CHAMPS: Hamish Bond, left, and Eric Murray, after winning gold at the Olympic.