Chester Scott back with an eye on top four

Incumbent Chester Scott has beaten off two impressive rivals to land the South Canterbury Heartland head coaching job for a further two years.

Scott said he was delighted to be reappointed. "It will be another good challenge."

Scott's position was under threat after he failed to get the side into Meads Cup top four of the Heartland Championships after two years at the helm. Before that, he was assistant to Simon Scott before they swapped roles.

This year South Canterbury won their first piece of Heartland silverware, the Lochore Cup, which goes to the fifth-placed team.

Off-field distractions over the past two years have not helped the side.

The two candidates to miss out were former Highlanders assistant Barry Matthews and former All Black Victor Simpson, who had New Zealand Universities listed among the sides he had coached.

The fourth applicant, Celtic coach Nigel Walsh, withdrew before the interviews.

Scott said he felt for the two coaches who missed out: "They are very good coaches."

He said he put his own success down to "pretty thorough" preparation. "We did a plan for a the next couple of years, we want to build a culture and team that can not only make the top four but stay there."

Scott said he was already working towards the 2014 season.

The South Canterbury Rugby Union rubber-stamped the recommendation by the appointment panel of Dave Perrin, James Jowsey and Grant Norton.

Union chairman Brent Isbister said the board was happy that a robust and independent interview process had occurred.

"There were a number of good-quality candidates apply which meant it was a very competitive and close contest.

"It is pleasing that a coach who is from our region and has developed himself here has the passion to continue coaching the green and blacks."

Isbister said each candidate had up to 10 minutes to give a presentation on "where the South Canterbury rugby team would be in the future" and then were asked questions about their presentation.

Scott has not yet named his assistant but South Canterbury sevens coach Gareth Burgess is shaping as the most likely candidate after Simon Scott was no longer available because of work commitments.

Isbister said the next stage was selecting the remaining management team, a process which would begin once they had met Scott to discuss his preferences.

He hoped those decisions would be made before Christmas.

Matthews, who has won a Heartland Championship with North Otago, said he was disappointed to have missed out.

"Obviously I was very keen on the job, but I want to wish Chester all the best."

The Timaru Herald