Former All Black Scott Robertson keen on Crusaders coaching job

Scott Robertson, the Canterbury head coach since 2013, has won two NPC titles. He also guided the NZ under-20 team to a ...
Evan Barnes

Scott Robertson, the Canterbury head coach since 2013, has won two NPC titles. He also guided the NZ under-20 team to a world title last year.

Scott Robertson will apply for the Crusaders coaching job.

The ex-All Blacks and Crusaders back rower, who has guided Canterbury to two NPC titles since 2013 and coached the NZ under-20 team to a world title last year, is backing his experience and passion for the Super Rugby club to make him the right man to replace Todd Blackadder when he leaves at the end of the season.

Last week the Crusaders board, in conjunction with NZ Rugby, invited applicants to forward their CVs before May 11. Hawke's Bay coach Craig Philpott has also confirmed he will apply, while Taranaki's Colin Cooper remains undecided.

Craig Philpott, who has been in charge of Hawke's Bay since 2012, is open to working as a head coach or in an ...
DIANNE MANSON/GETTY IMAGES

Craig Philpott, who has been in charge of Hawke's Bay since 2012, is open to working as a head coach or in an assistant's role at the Crusaders.

Robertson, who played 23 tests and was a key member of the Crusaders side that grew into a juggernaut in the late 1990s, believes he has gathered enough intelligence as a coach to be a success at Super Rugby level.

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"Yes, I would love to be involved," Robertson said. "I have been patient, for a long time, for an opportunity to come up. Having been involved with Canterbury for around eight years and the NZ under-20 team for three (two as an assistant), I think the timing for me and my family is right. I am a red and black man and it would be something that would be very dear to me."

Colin Cooper, who assisted Robbie Deans at the Crusaders in 2002, now coaches Taranaki and the NZ Maori teams.
ROBERT CHARLES/FAIRFAX NZ

Colin Cooper, who assisted Robbie Deans at the Crusaders in 2002, now coaches Taranaki and the NZ Maori teams.

Working as an assistant coach was something he would also consider. "Whatever the capacity - I am open to that. There are a lot of good men around with a lot of experience that I am happy to work with."

Although he had previously worked under Rob Penney, who won four consecutive titles between 2008-11 and is now coaching in Japan, Robertson hadn't asked his old mentor to put in a joint bid to work at the Crusaders.

Philpott, an ex-lock who represented Canterbury between 1987-92 and has coached Hawke's Bay since 2012, is backing his depth of knowledge in the game.

Philpott's time at the Magpies has coincided with them mounting several successful Ranfurly Shield raids and also gaining promotion to the NPC premiership after beating Wellington in the championship final last season.

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"One of the reasons I left Canterbury was to increase my skills as a head coach and always, I guess, with a view to one day come home and maybe be involved with the Crusaders," Philpott said.

A former Canterbury colts coach, Philpott, who will assist Robertson with the NZ under-20s this season, was also open to the concept of working as an assistant: "I am relatively relaxed in that regard." 

"There is a big queue of good coaches around the country, and particularly in Christchurch - I am sure it will be a very competitive environment," he stated. "I am well aware of all the guys that are down there like Tabai Matson, Dave Hewett and Razor [Robertson] ... We will just see who puts their hand up. Then it will be up to the powers to be to see if they can fit the pieces of the puzzle."

Cooper assisted Robbie Deans when the Crusaders swept through the 2002 season unbeaten, and was Hurricanes head coach between 2003 and 2010. He has coached Taranaki for the last five seasons and is also the NZ Maori coach.

He will bide his time before making a call: "I am not sure. I just have to make a decision about whether I want to go back to Super Rugby."

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