Lions' Chris Boyd takes multi-tasking in stride

TOBY ROBSON
Last updated 05:00 14/08/2014
Chris Boyd
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BIG TASK AHEAD: Chris Boyd will take over the Hurricanes once his duties with Wellington in the NPC are complete.

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Chris Boyd has become rugby's ultimate multi-tasker. A few months after overseeing the New Zealand under-20s junior World Cup campaign, Boyd is juggling the Wellington Lions' troubled pre-season.

For about two days a week he changes tack and focuses on continuing to lay the foundations for the Hurricanes 2015 season, his first as a Super Rugby head coach.

Somewhere in between all that, the man popularly known as Boydy has been watching Wellington's Premier 1 first XV college competition in a bid to identify the next generation of local talent.

Free time isn't something Boyd has a lot of right now, which is pretty much how he likes it.

"I'm actually really enjoying it," he said on the eve of the National Provincial Championship. "I find it really stimulating, but I'm also really lucky I have very good people around me as well."

It's at that point Boyd rattles off the exceptional qualities of his two Lions assistants, Richard Watt and Earl Va'a, and the hard work of Hurricanes assistant Clark Laidlaw and high performance manager Chris Stirling.

It highlights one of Boyd's own great qualities.

The 56-year-old does not appear to possess an ego. He has an understated knack of empowering and encouraging those around him without anyone feeling they are of greater or lesser importance.

Perhaps it's why he was happy to be an assistant coach for so many years under John Plumtree at the Lions and then at the Sharks, and under Mark Anscombe, then Rob Penney with the national under-20s.

Whatever the case, Boyd is now steering a number of ships.

"At the moment with those various hats on I'm looking at a lot of college games for our Wellington Academy intake for next year," he said. "I'll also be looking at a lot of ITM Cup matches in terms of spaces to fill in the Hurricanes next year, so there is a fair bit of work going on in the background.

"I don't think you can really keep abreast of what's going on in New Zealand rugby unless you are well locked in and immersed in it."

And so Boyd's weekends include hours in front of the television. "I do find after I've watched five or six games in a weekend I start to get to that stage where I've had enough," he said.

"But I look at it two ways. Philosophically before I watch a game I decide it's either for entertainment or it's work.

"When it's work I go to study somebody or find something out about some people, whereas if it's entertainment then I just sit back and enjoy a good game of footy and I'll just switch the brain off."

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That's questionable. Boyd is always thinking, and often from different angles. Conversations, even interviews, are rarely one way. He often asks as many questions as he answers.

His knowledge of his players goes beyond their skillset. He knows where they are from, where they were schooled, their cultural background, their parents' occupations, the jobs they've had, the subjects they're taking at school.

In a nutshell he is genuinely interested in the individual.

"It's definitely an advantage having been in the New Zealand under-20s environment for the last few years.

"I have a really good understanding of the talent and youth development and what's available around the country. I think that helps in the Hurricanes space."

BEING busy is nothing new for the father of four. In his days as a club coach with Tawa, he ran four Lifestyle Sports shops in Wellington, while he and wife Linda raised boys Nick and Jono and girls Kylie and Holly.

Boyd has every reason to feel a little rattled right now. He's managed a pre-season injury list of epic proportions as Saturday's season opener against Waikato approaches.

A poor NPC campaign could risk taking the shine off his Hurricanes appointment.

But like Chiefs coach Dave Rennie, another Wellingtonian, Boyd never seems to be flustered or overly emotional, regardless of the circumstances.

That calmness rubs off on the players he coaches. It levels young men's emotions in a sport where the weekly roller coaster can be a sickening ride.

Boyd's approach is based around simple honesty.

And in that light he's not predicting any miracles from his young Lions this season.

"Our goal is clearly to perform to the best of our potential. What that is for this group is a bit unknown. What I can say is we have a youthful but enthusiastic group who will not want to let the Lions jersey down.

"I'm optimistic that if we can get ourselves organised we will put in a good showing.

"If you look at the premiership this year I think most people would struggle to pick a finishing order. Tasman's roster looks strong . . . Taranaki has recruited well and have some key people. I expect both divisions to be extremely competitive."

- The Dominion Post

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