Mentor Carl Hoeft straight from the playing field

EVAN PEGDEN
Last updated 05:00 22/02/2012
Carl Hoeft
BRUCE MERCER/Fairfax NZ
PACKING DOWN: After 20 years of hard care scrummaging, former All Blacks prop Carl Hoeft is passing his knowledge on to the Chiefs.

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Former All Black Carl Hoeft looks like he could strap his boots on and mix it with the Chiefs front rowers he is mentoring.

That is hardly surprising considering the new Waikato ITM Cup front row and scrummaging coach who is also working with the Chiefs only stopped playing professionally last November after a 20-year senior playing career.

The Auckland-born and Te Aroha-raised Hoeft moved to Hamilton and bought a house here a month ago after returning from France at the end of November.

"I was in France for nearly 6 1/2 years. I went over for 18 months and ended up staying for longer," said the loosehead prop who became something of an institution at the Castres Olympique club before finishing his career with Toulouse.

"The body's getting a bit old now at 37, considering I started playing seniors in 1992 for Te Aroha College Old Boys.

"So I've had a good run. My skinny little legs have done me quite well."

That good run also included 30 tests for the All Blacks, 98 Super Rugby games for the Highlanders and over 100 caps for Otago.

"I suppose going to France helped me [endure]. One of the things I did quite well was scrum, and running around the field has never been a strong suit of mine.

"So hopefully I've learnt a bit and I can pass some stuff on to the young fellas."

Ironically, it is the Highlanders whom Hoeft is this week helping the Chiefs prepare for in their Super Rugby season opener at Waikato Stadium on Saturday night and his old front row partner Kees Meeuws is the scrum coach for the southern men.

The front row and the scrum have always been a bone of contention for the Chiefs but Hoeft believes that can be turned around this season.

"Hopefully with a bit of work we can change that and really go forward.

"I see a lot more enthusiasm, they're at a new facility and everyone seems quite excited, although [I] suppose you always get a bit of that after a change of coach. It's about producing on the field now," he said.

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