Clifton powered by dual coaches
If there is one thing Clifton won't lack in their coaching ranks next year, it's experience.
Ian Snook and Paul Martin will do the job, bringing more than 40 years of worldwide coaching experience to the table.
Despite being former representative team-mates in rugby and cricket, the pair have never worked together as coaches.
For Martin, it's a return to the club he coached in the late 1990s, while Snook moves up a cog after working as an assistant to coach Chris Moller for the past two seasons.
They've been busy, too, organising a number of pre-season activities as they try to find the right team culture early on.
On Sunday, there was a team barbecue, while Wednesday night was spent soaking up the December sun as the players slogged their way to the top of Paritutu, before they finished with a game of touch on the surrounding reserve. Martin is keen to bring the club's two top teams together as one squad, which he found worked successfully the last time around.
"It means the guys are getting a better understanding of what we are trying to do and it's good for the club," he said.
So how will the two men adapt to coaching at club level after such long stints with representative and professional sides?
"Coaching club rugby is probably the hardest job of all," Snook said.
"It's not so much about coaching, it's about managing and providing a really good environment so people want to come along. Every club coach will tell you, they will miss vital guys at vital times. You will plan vital sessions and the key guy can't turn up. We all know what it's like."
After more than 25 years travelling around the world with his clipboard in hand, Snook conceded the Clifton job was as "daunting" as any he had taken on. "It will be a good test to see how we cope, I think."
One of the first things the pair had to do was sort out who would oversee the backs and who would be in charge of sorting out the grunt men. After short debate, it will be Martin who will add the finesse to the team's play.
"We hope we will get them playing good rugby," Snook said.
"There will be a few key people there who should be able to carry the load and we will be disappointed if they don't play well."
Martin insisted their working partnership would be fine, despite each being more accustomed to steering the ship alone.
"When we were playing against each other we didn't get on too well," he said, drawing a laugh from his offsider.
"It was when we played cricket together later on that we got on really well together. The good thing about it is we can both have our disagreements but we both go away and think about it, and realise maybe he does have a point."
Top of their agenda is trying to bring more of the Waitara community back to the club and creating a focal point for the town. Tentative plans are to play Clifton's first home game of 2013 at Pukekohe Domain (Camp Reserve), with a host of festivities around it.
"We've got to work out methods to get the community involved because club rugby is difficult, so you have to come up with novel ideas," Snook said. "People just need encouragement to do things. We also want the players to be playing a brand of rugby they enjoy and people enjoy watching, with the ultimate goal of getting guys in rep teams."
Taranaki Daily News