Crusaders' Hewett not your typical rugby head

RICHARD KNOWLER
Last updated 05:00 03/08/2014
BRAINS TRUST: Dave Hewett (left) and Richie McCaw enjoy a light moment at Crusaders training.
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BRAINS TRUST: Dave Hewett (left) and Richie McCaw enjoy a light moment at Crusaders training.

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Todd Blackadder's longest-serving assistant coach is also the co-owner of a Christchurch building company and reckons it's the perfect foil when things go haywire in Super Rugby.

Dave Hewett isn't your typical rugby head.

The former All Blacks prop, who has been Todd Blackadder's longest-serving assistant coach, has contemplated being a head coach but is still uncertain when - or if - he is will make that step-up.

And it isn't as if he doesn't have enough projects outside of the rugby bubble to keep him occupied.

Hewett, who played 22 tests for the All Blacks and 71 matches for the Crusaders, is a co-owner and director of a residential building company in Christchurch and believes this role is the perfect foil for when things go haywire in Super Rugby.

"As you are well aware we had a couple of iffy games this season," Hewett says ahead of last night's Super Rugby final against the Waratahs.

"That (his building company) has been a welcome distraction because it stops you spending all your time stewing over a (bad) performance.

"Yes we can prepare the players as well as we would like but to actually get the performance is up to them."

The hours he puts into his company vary depending on his commitments with the Crusaders.

If the team suffers a loss he welcomes the chance to switch his focus from rugby; that forces him to stop constantly analysing what went wrong the previous Saturday.

"It is a great distraction to think about something else and then to come back with a semi-clear head going ‘actually now we can do this, this and this'.

"In a bye week I would do more but we have very good people in the business that run it on a day-to-day point of view. All the employees we have are top-level."

Hewett first stepped into the coaching world when Robbie Deans asked for some assistance in 2007.

When Blackadder was appointed head coach in 2009 he became more involved and the following year was in charge of scrums and defensive lineouts and also managed the Canterbury team in the National Provincial Championship.

In 2011 he became the fulltime assistant forwards coach.

"It has been a great education, a great team, a great coaching set-up and learning environment because we are encouraged to do professional development by Toddy and Richard Smith (the high performance manager)."

Given how long he has been involved with the Crusaders, Hewett, who is one of the longest-serving assistants out of the five New Zealand franchises, would have reason to get itchy feet.

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He says he is in no hurry to be a head coach just yet.

"In time, yes, it is something I would look at. But at this stage I have a lot to learn from an assistant's point of view. There is a lot I can work on. Just seeing how Toddy has developed has been a real education for me.

"If you jump into the cauldron too quickly you don't do the apprenticeship that you need to." When he does feel the time is right to leave the Crusaders, he is unsure if he will head offshore.

"I probably haven't thought that far ahead. Opportunity is what it comes down to. There is more opportunity overseas simply because there are more teams but obviously I have a very strong affinity with New Zealand rugby.

"Steve Hansen, Graham Henry and Toddy - they all went overseas and came back again.

"I am sure the likes of Vern Cotter, Joe Schmidt and Rob Penney have aspirations to come back to New Zealand and are just biding their time and waiting for that opportunity."

- Sunday Star Times

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