Matson, Mauger join Crusaders coaching staff
Tradition means a lot at the Crusaders, and that's why today's announcement that Tabai Matson and Aaron Mauger are the new assistant coaches for the 2013 Super Rugby season will surprise no one.
Matson and Mauger will join head coach Todd Blackadder and assistant Dave Hewett (forwards) as part of a four-man coaching setup at the seven-time champion franchise in Christchurch.
With a disgruntled Daryl Gibson cutting his ties with the franchise, two new positions were up for grabs for next season. It is both predictable and sensible that both have been promoted from the successful Canterbury provincial setup, continuing a tradition at the Crusaders of using "red and black" men where possible.
Matson was head coach of the Canterbury team which won its fifth successive national provincial title this season, while Mauger was his attack coach. Both will focus on the backs, though their responsibilities have not been defined beyond that.
Mark Drury has also been appointed new strength and conditioning coach, also coming out of the Canterbury provincial system.
Crusaders CEO Hamish Riach said the fact that all three new appointments came out of the successful Canterbury setup was notable.
"They will bring to the Crusaders their experiences from that successful season. Many of the Crusaders squad were also involved in the Canterbury team so will be familiar with these coaches already, which will help to make the transition as seamless as possible," he said.
Matson took over as Canterbury coach when Rob Penney moved to Ireland midway through this year. He formerly worked as the assistant coach since 2009.
He is a former All Blacks, Canterbury and Crusaders centre who played five games for the All Blacks in 1995-1996, 58 times for Canterbury and earned 25 caps for the Crusaders. Matson also played two tests for Fiji at the 1999 World Cup, turned out for Brive in France in 1998-2000, London Irish in 2000-2001, and Yamaha in Japan in 2001-2006.
Mauger is another former Canterbury, Crusaders and All Blacks star. He debuted for Canterbury in 1999, for the Crusaders in 2000 and for the All Blacks in 2001 where he was an accomplished five-eighth.
Before taking on the attack coach role with Canterbury, he worked as a resource coach with the team and as their professional development manager. He has also been co-coaching High School Old Boys in the Christchurch club competition with former All Black captain Reuben Thorne.
Drury replaces former strength and conditioning coach Carl Jennings who has taken up a position with the NZ Warriors. Drury has been with the Canterbury team since 2010 and formerly worked for Scotland's national academy, Edinburgh Rugby and the Hawkes Bay union.
Blackadder said there was "a real buzz" around the management team with the group now completed.
"The new appointments bring so much enthusiasm, positivity and valuable skills and experience . Bringing our coaching resource up to four to allow a more specialised focus on our defence and attack play was one of the key requirements we identified in our review of 2012.
"With this coaching team I believe that we have the right mix of experience in the different facets of play to perfectly complement our players and bring out the best in each of them."