Colin Cooper has been confirmed as the new head coach of the Maori All Blacks.
The 54 year-old Taranaki head coach was announced as the replacement for Jamie Joseph at a New Zealand Rugby Union press conference in Auckland this morning.
"This is pretty special for me. I am very proud of my Maori heritage, and I feel very privileged to be appointed to this job. The Maori All Blacks have always been a unique team that celebrates the best of Maori and rugby," he said.
The 2013 Maori All Blacks have two international games scheduled for November - one against Canada in Toronto, and the other against the United States in Philadelphia.
As well as coaching Taranaki from 1999 to 2002, and since 2010, Cooper was the Hurricanes' head coach from 2003 to 2010.
His national repertoire includes coaching the New Zealand Colts in 2001 and as co-coach of the Junior All Blacks from 2005 to 2009.
The former loose forward also represented the Maori All Blacks in 1982 and 1983 before a serious neck injury ended his playing career.
In May, Cooper said the short nature of the November tour was one of the attractions of the job.
"It's fitting for where I am at the moment.
"With the Hurricanes and the Junior All Blacks [jobs], it didn't fit with me, but it does now and if it doesn't clash with Taranaki, then I'm interested," he said.
This morning New Zealand Maori Rugby Board chairman Wayne Peters announced Cooper's appointment along with former All Black Tabai Matson as his assistant and former All Black Carl Hoeft as scrum coach.
Luke Crawford has been re-appointed as the team's kaumatua and Hurricanes team manager Tony Ward will manage the team.
Mr Peters congratulated the management team and said the appointments marked an exciting new chapter for the team.
"We are delighted with Colin's appointment. He has a great coaching record currently as Coach of Taranaki, but his experience includes the Hurricanes (2003-2010), the New Zealand Colts (2001) and Junior All Blacks (2005-2009).
"As a former player himself, he well understands how important this team is for players who are wanting more opportunities to press for higher honours.
"Colin is joined by a very experienced coaching team in Tabai and Carl and they bring great experiences as former players at the highest level."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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