Respect was a word rolling off the tongue of Taranaki Rugby Football Union chairman Lindsay Thomson yesterday after he confirmed that Michael Collins had been appointed chief executive.
Mr Collins had taken on the job on an interim basis after the sudden resignation of Neil Pennington in October, and was considered a favourite for the position once he put his hand up.
"He brings with him a thorough understanding of the organisation and the culture within the TRFU, having worked for us previously," Mr Thomson said.
"He has real strength in the area of high performance and as a highly respected former professional player he has strong links and contacts, both within New Zealand and internationally."
A prop by trade, Mr Collins was schooled at New Plymouth Boys' High School, successfully captaining the first XV, before he moved to Hamilton where he completed a planning degree at Waikato University.
His playing career included 73 games for Waikato and 82 appearances for the Chiefs before he ended his career in Europe turning out for London Irish and Glasgow. He returned to Taranaki in 2010 to take over the role as the union's rugby development manager before leaving to work in the oil industry and coach Spotswood United.
The 39-year-old maintained strong links with the union, however, working as a scrum coach for Taranaki during the national provincial championship. His expertise has also been in demand overseas, especially in Japan.
The lure of a chief executive's job in provincial rugby proved too tempting, especially after he had got his feet under the desk during the past few weeks and became involved in the review of a disappointing NPC season that netted just three wins.
"I was definitely always interested in the role because CEO jobs don't come up too often. It was always my intention to apply but such is my nature I didn't want to go around telling everyone I was going to apply and then fall flat on my face.
"The only thing that was holding me back was coaching Spotswood because I had made a two-year commitment there and I really enjoyed my time with the club," he said.
Mr Thomson confirmed that the union had short-listed four candidates and interviewed three, before offering the job to Mr Collins.
As for his message to the appointment board, Mr Collins said he wanted to reassure those around the table of his experience in the game.
"I want to bring that experience of being a player and doing a little bit of coaching into the administration side of it. Also, being born and raised here, coming through the clubs and schools, I've got that affinity for the province."
Mr Collins' appointment was a shift away from the more business-orientated person the union had with Mr Pennington, but Mr Thomson was convinced that Mr Collins was the No 1 man for the job.
His association with the Chiefs would also be of benefit, with the union about to be announced as a franchise partner next week, splitting its ties with the Hurricanes.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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