Highlanders 2021 coaching staff



  • With the uncertainty around whether this weekend's games go ahead or not, I thought we might as well discuss the future:

    This year Aaron Mauger's contract as Highlanders head coach expires. The Highlanders board will soon decide whether to renew it for 2021 and beyond.

    Mauger's winning percentage sits at just 40% (2018-2020). This is a decrease from 69% from Tony Brown (2017) and 53% from Joseph (2010-2016).

    The Highlanders have won just 2 games in 2020 (including pre-Covid results), even the Chiefs won 4 games pre-Covid including win over Crusaders.

    Personally, I believe Mauger's time as head coach is up. The Highlanders have only gotten worse each year since Brown stood down as head coach in 2017.

    I've canvassed some potential options to replace him as Highlanders head coach, assisting Brown until 2022 and potentially beyond.

    Pat Lam (Bristol Bears)

    Kieran Keane (North Harbour)

    John McKee (off-contract)

    Cory Brown (Japan Top League - Mannix Blues)

    Jono Gibbes (Top 14 - La Rochelle)

    Dave Dillion (Japan Top League - current Kolbe Steelers head coach)

    Tabai Matson (rumored to be shafted by Chiefs in 2021)

    Daryl Gibson (current Fiji attack coach under Vern Cotter)

    Milton Haig (Japan Top League - Suntory Sungoliath head coach)

    Jason O'Halloran (Suntory Sungoliath assistant coach)

    We can pretty much already rule-out both Haig and O'Halloran since they only began their (2 year minimum) contract for Suntory last year.

    One of the best up-and-coming NZ coaches Clayton McMillan is being groomed as Chiefs head coach post-Gatland, so unfortunately he's out of the equation for now.

    Another option is to re-unite Tasman Mako's title winning coaching duo of 2019, Andrew Goodman and Clarke Dermody.

    Goodman is the current defense coach at the Crusaders, while Dermody has been the Highlanders scrum coach since 2013.

    Another more bolder option is to copy the Blues template, do a Umaga/Rangi of 2019 and demote Mauger to assistant coach, while promoting Dermody to head coach.

    This could actually work very well because Mauger has significantly improved the Highlanders defense since taking over after Delany moved on in 2019. This is the one area Mauger has excelled in 2020. But to be a successful head coach you need good man-management skills also. For the betterment of the Highlanders, I believe Mauger should move to a specialist defense role.

    Mauger's problem is said to be man-management and selection related, sources have indicated there is increasing unrest among the Highlanders players with regards to Mauger's contradictory methods, he is alleged to say one thing one week then change his mind. Players are frustrated to find themselves on the outer after being selected one week then suddenly dropped again the next. There has been little continuity in Highlanders selections until these last 2 rounds of Super Rugby Aotearoa.

    Tony Brown is contracted as Highlanders assistant coach until at least 2022. Word is Dermody will likely be promoted to forwards coach in 2021 as Mark Hammett is leaving the Highlanders after this Saturday's match. Due to Tasman forwards coach Shane Christie's relationship with Dermody, I think it's possible Christie could be joining the Highlanders next year.

    Most likely out-come for 2021: Aaron Mauger (head+defense), Tony Brown (attack), Clarke Dermody (scrum+forwards coach), Shane Christie (ass. forwards coach).

    What my preference would be: Clarke Dermody (head coach+forwards), Tony Brown (attack), Andrew Goodman (ass.backs, skills, individual player development), Aaron Mauger (defense), Shane Christie (ass. forwards). Re-unite the Tasman title-winning staff of 2019, let's make it happen!



  • Mate have you got goss on why no Walden gametime this year?

    Christ I'm getting desperate - hate it when my eyes see something my brain can't understand!



  • Surely first option would be brownie get promoted and mauger works on defense, Dermody promoted to forward coach with an eye to him stepping up after a couple of years

    I’ll also say, results aside, during SRA weave played some great code and I would be working out how to build on that and then decide who is the best person to do it



  • @kiwi_expat that’s a full on first post!



  • @Kiwiwomble That's off the cards apparently.

    Brown already has to juggle his roles with the Highlanders and Japanese national side.



  • @kiwi_expat I wondered if that may have changed during COVID



  • @Siam no, but I've heard that Walden's teammates are equally baffled.



  • @kiwi_expat yeah, MMT liked someone post on last weeks team announcement asking where Walden was...briefly



  • Brown and or dermody with the final say. Need a bit of southern culture know how that was evidenced with Jamie and Brown- a bit of mongrel in the attitude perhaps.

    Mauger's teams showed some promise at times, thought we might be building an offload game at pace, but then the tactics seem to change about 2 or 3 times a season.

    Those most unlikely golden years when we always made the finals were a privilege i didn't take for granted ( fuck, I thought we'd never actually win the thing for a while there!), and Mauger didn't completely ruin that. However the player drain needs an overhaul and I guess Mauger made some progress this year.

    But fuck him, he's from chch!

    Brown to get a new contract?



  • @kiwi_expat good mate, that's a start, ta.

    Surely the walden omissions are a perfect mystery for the fern to decipher?

    My money on Smudge to push things along...πŸ™‚



  • @Kiwiwomble apparently the players aren't exactly thrilled with Mauger and want Brown as head coach. Hopefully CEO Roger Clarke receives this feedback because an unhappy dressing room is the worst situation for any club.



  • @kiwi_expat where are you getting your intel?

    @Siam @Bones already worked it out, Walden has been playing in a McKay or a collins costume πŸ€·πŸ»β™‚



  • @Kiwiwomble good point, Highlanders could be real benefactors of the COVID situation if international rugby isn't able to resume over next 18 months. You've got to wonder whether this 6 nations tournament with Japan and Fiji still goes ahead later this year..



  • Bring back the hurrilanders.



  • @Kiwiwomble more like Sio Tomkinson. McKay wasn't getting selected for the longest while, he'd only started 3 matches in three years since Mauger signed him in 2018.



  • @kiwi_expat said in Highlanders 2021 coaching staff:

    @Kiwiwomble more like Sio Tomkinson. McKay wasn't getting selected for the longest while, he'd only started 3 matches in three years since Mauger signed him in 2018.

    Well yeah, and those 3 matches he'd been pretty ordinary. Walden disappears off the face of the earth and all of a sudden McKay is a gun....go figure....

    Actual footage of McKay being kidnapped.
    alt text



  • @Bones he's definitely improved since his rough start pre-covid



  • Walden's contract expires this year; I wonder whether he doesn't get any game time because he's signed somewhere else. If not, then not getting game time will be a good reason for him to look for a spot at another team (in NZ or overseas).



  • @Stargazer said in Highlanders 2021 coaching staff:

    I wonder whether he doesn't get any game time because he's signed somewhere else.

    That would be a very petty stance to take, especially when you consider the form in the midfield and the injuries. It would make me distrust Mauger even more. I would hope there's more meat to it than that, but I wouldn't be surprised if not.



  • just promote Hammer to the top job





  • @Kiwiwomble said in Highlanders 2021 coaching staff:

    mauger works on defense

    😲

    144d951c-ab95-40b6-b326-66d6db44ec48-image.png



  • @kiwi_expat said in Highlanders 2021 coaching staff:

    Mauger's problem is said to be man-management and selection related, sources have indicated there is increasing unrest among the Highlanders players with regards to Mauger's contradictory methods, he is alleged to say one thing one week then change his mind. Players are frustrated to find themselves on the outer after being selected one week then suddenly dropped again the next.

    Do you think the last game might've changed attitudes towards Mauger?



  • @Duluth I think I’m coming around to idea let this team, minus hammer, keep building unless someone proven like Joseph wants to come back



  • Ben Smith in as the humility coach.



  • @Duluth His selections are finally becoming consistent. For the most part Mauger has his best XV sorted and is sticking with a core group of players, which is a good sign. I'm still hesitant about his coaching as the improvements this year can be more attributed to Brown, rather than Mauger himself.

    What we know is that Tony Brown has been in charge of the game-planning/strategy this year, not Mauger. This is the most significant area in which the Highlanders have stepped up this year. They've been playing smarter rugby.

    The strategy the Highlanders implemented this year was much the same as what Brown used with Japan at the rugby world cup.



  • @kiwi_expat said in Highlanders 2021 coaching staff:

    @Duluth His selections are finally becoming consistent. For the most part Mauger has his best XV sorted and is sticking with a core group of players, which is a good sign. I'm still hesitant about his coaching as the improvements this year can be more attributed to Brown, rather than Mauger himself.

    What we know is that Tony Brown has been in charge of the game-planning/strategy this year, not Mauger. This is the most significant area in which the Highlanders have stepped up this year. They've been playing smarter rugby.

    The strategy the Highlanders implemented this year was much the same as what Brown used with Japan at the rugby world cup.

    Tony, if you want the job, we're not really the ones to be campaigning...



  • @Duluth said in Highlanders 2021 coaching staff:

    Do you think the last game might've changed attitudes towards Mauger?

    I suspect that the inexcusable omission of Walden throughout has permanently tainted perceptions of the head coach.



  • @Snowy all jokes aside, it is really baffling considering sio has become a bit of a card magnet and before collins moved our midfield was really struggling



  • @Kiwiwomble It was tongue in cheek, but I agree with you. Collins to centre does seem to have been a bit of an inspired choice though. A full back moving to centre...brave stuff around here.



  • @Snowy i got it πŸ˜‰ it keeps giving, funny...and also quite relevant rugby chat



  • A lot more people for Collins to chat to when in the backline as well. Must be the key to his success there.



  • @Snowy said in Highlanders 2021 coaching staff:

    @Kiwiwomble It was tongue in cheek, but I agree with you. Collins to centre does seem to have been a bit of an inspired choice though. A full back moving to centre...brave stuff around here.

    I always thought of him as a midfielder just because that's where he started with otago when Bender was at 15, it was reported when he moved to the blues it was because he wanted game time at his preferred position of 15...which surprised me...and now ive seen it mentioned he's relishing his preferred position in the midfield πŸ€·πŸ»β™‚



  • @Kiwiwomble actually come to think of it, I think I was calling him an AB in waiting waaaay back then, he was a gun for a young fella...do I recall right he had blondish/curly hair?



  • @Bones ...not sure even i went that far...although i honestly think he'd have a much better rep if he'd just stuck to the midfield

    I thought he always had pretty short hair but i did see this, this would have to be debut season
    alt text



  • @Kiwiwomble said in Highlanders 2021 coaching staff:

    I always thought of him as a midfielder just because that's where he started with otago when Bender was at 15, it was reported when he moved to the blues it was because he wanted game time at his preferred position of 15...which surprised me...and now ive seen it mentioned he's relishing his preferred position in the midfield πŸ€·πŸ»β™‚

    He was talked up as a midfielder when he arrived at the Blues. His best game for the Blues was in the preseason before he played a full match. He was playing at 12 and scored or set up 3 tries in 40mins

    He played that entire preseason in the midfield and then was selected at fullback when the real games started.
    He was terrible at fullback.



  • @Kiwiwomble I was pretty surprised when he showed up playing average rugby at fullback at the blues a few years later.



  • @Bones said in Highlanders 2021 coaching staff:

    he showed up playing average rugby at fullback at the blues a few years later.

    He never reached those lofty heights



  • @Duluth said in Highlanders 2021 coaching staff:

    @Bones said in Highlanders 2021 coaching staff:

    he showed up playing average rugby at fullback at the blues a few years later.

    He never reached those lofty heights

    It was the blues. Exceeding expectations was frowned upon.



  • I remembered him as a young on the rise, well thought of centre back in the day, but I probably only noticed him due to his name.


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