Crusaders deputies could be known this week

19:00, Nov 06 2012
aaron mauger
INTEREST: Aaron Mauger has applied for one of the vacant Crusaders' assistant coaching positions.

Todd Blackadder's new assistants could be appointed by the end of the week.

Applications for the Crusaders' attack and defence coaching jobs closed last Sunday and a quick decision is wanted, with the majority of the squad required to begin pre-season training on December 10.

Chief executive Hamish Riach refused to divulge the number of applications received or which candidates had been short-listed.

"But we are keen to move on this quickly. Obviously we are mindful pre-season training will start soon."

It is probable the successor to recently departed defence coach Daryl Gibson and the new attack mentor will be an ex-Crusaders player.

Aaron Mauger, who assisted Tabai Matson with the successful Canterbury NPC side this season, has confirmed he has applied.


Matson is also expected to be a contender and Tasman assistant coach Leon MacDonald is understood to have considered the jobs.

All three are former All Blacks and Crusaders backs.

MacDonald, who has assisted Kieran Keane at Tasman in recent seasons, was sighted at several Crusaders trainings this year and sat in the coach's box at AMI Stadium on at least one occasion.

It is understood MacDonald doesn't want to do both the Crusaders and Tasman jobs next season.

Matson was employed as the Crusaders skills coach this year. He formed a sound working relationship with Mauger during the NPC and with Blackadder impressed by the way they were able to get the Canterbury backline fizzing, their partnership may be carried over into the Super Rugby fold.

Having played alongside Dan Carter also means Mauger's opinions should carry some weight with the influential playmaker, who is crucial to the team's success.

Former All Blacks captain Tana Umaga, who last month guided Counties-Manukau to the NPC championship title, has publicly stated he hasn't applied.

Wellington coach Chris Boyd, who had an informal meeting with Blackadder last month, is another who wants to remain with his province.

Peter Sloane, a former All Blacks and Crusaders assistant coach, now lives in Christchurch after coaching in Japan and was recently appointed the Belfast club's director of coaching.

Adrian Kennedy, who has coached at professional clubs in South Africa and Ireland, also lives in the city but has carved out a reputation as a forwards coach.

He applied to coach Canterbury when Rob Penney left for Irish club Munster and missed out to Matson.

One coaching position will be remunerated by the New Zealand Rugby Union, while the Crusaders will be responsible for funding the other.

Meanwhile, Riach said the Canterbury Rugby Football Union had no complaints about the NZRU's decision to allocate Christchurch a test against France on June 15.

It would have made sense for Dunedin's enclosed stadium to host the mid-winter test against France and allow the Wallabies match on October 19 to be played at AMI Stadium.

This year's test, against Ireland in June, was played on a freezing night in Christchurch. "Given the size of our stadium and our temporary stands, we appreciate any test match we are given," Riach said. "We are just grateful to get this commitment from the NZRU."