Matson and Mauger set to join Crusaders

RICHARD KNOWLER
Last updated 05:00 15/11/2012
Tabai Matson and Aaron Mauger
JOSEPH JOHNSON/FAIRFAX NZ

STEPPING UP: Canterbury NPC coaches Tabai Matson (left) and Aaron Mauger are expected to be confirmed as Crusaders assistant coaches next week.

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Tabai Matson and Aaron Mauger will be confirmed as Crusaders assistant coaches next week.

Matson, who last month guided Canterbury to the NPC title, will have to vacate his head coach position after just one campaign when he joins Todd Blackadder's coaching staff as backline mentor.

Mauger, who was the Canterbury backs coach this season, is tipped to be recruited by Blackadder as another backline adviser.

Following the recent and sudden resignation of former backs coach Daryl Gibson, who had been demoted to a defensive role because Blackadder was unhappy with the backline's performances, the Crusaders advertised for an attack and defence coach.

Although Crusaders chief executive Hamish Riach wouldn't comment yesterday it is understood Matson and Mauger, who are both former All Blacks and Crusaders midfielders, have been chosen and offered the jobs.

It is understood they are in the process of putting pen to paper and signing contracts which need to be processed through the New Zealand Rugby Union and the franchise before a public announcement is made.

It is uncertain whether Blackadder will ask Matson and Mauger to stick to separate attack and defence coach roles or redefine the positions.

The move means the Canterbury Rugby Union will have to recruit a new head coach for its provincial side.

Matson was appointed only a few months ago after Rob Penney left for Munster.

Although Matson served as a Crusaders' skills coach this season, it's unlikely he will be allowed to do a dual role and that means his assistant, Scott Robertson, becomes his logical replacement.

Robertson has also been the Sumner seniors head coach in recent seasons.

Mauger, who has been the head coach of the High School Old Boys seniors in recent years and was respected during his playing days with the All Blacks for his tactical awareness, will work in tandem with Matson.

There could also be potential for Mauger to be involved with the Crusaders development side which was previously coached by Canterbury academy manager Matt Sexton.

Sexton has since left for South Africa to coach the new Southern Kings side in next year's Super Rugby competition.

Gibson, currently on tour with the All Blacks Maori team in England and contracted with the NZRU until the end of 2013, could be a candidate to coach Canterbury, but may have already stitched up an overseas deal.

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