Rugby

Deans to coach Japan club

2014-04-22 09:01
Robbie Deans (Gallo Images)

Tokyo - Former Wallabies boss Robbie Deans will become the head coach of Japan's Top League and national champions Panasonic Wild Knights on May 1, the club said on Tuesday.

Deans, who has also managed the Christchurch-based Crusaders and served as an All Blacks assistant coach, will take over from Norifumi Nakajima, who is transferring to another part of the giant electronics firm.

Nakajima spent three seasons in charge at Panasonic, leading the club to the double honour in his final season.

The 54-year-old New Zealander parted company with the Australian Rugby Union after the Wallabies lost the British and Irish Lions test series 2-1 last June.

He has maintained a good relationship with Panasonic on an informal basis for nearly 10 years, since he began coaching the Crusaders, said the club's spokesperson Seigo Ikeda. "He has given us advice every year."

The terms of his contract with the Top League side were not made known.

"I am very glad that I can continue the relationship this way," Deans said in a Japanese-language statement.

"I have enjoyed building a strong team with Panasonic players, staff and officials and I enjoyed watching Panasonic play," he said.

"I am looking forward to making the team better still in this fine environment this season," Deans said. "We want to move further ahead."

Deans coached the Wallabies for six years from 2008, winning 43 times, losing 29 and drawing twice. Australia finished third in the 2011 rugby World Cup.

As a player he represented Canterbury and played 19 matches for the All Blacks including five Tests.

A number of names at Panasonic will be familiar to Deans, according to New Zealand media reports.

Ash Jones, who worked under Deans at the Crusaders and the Wallabies as their strength and conditioning coach, is also on the Wild Knights staff.

Wallaby five-eighth Berrick Barnes joined the club last year and his accurate goal kicking proved crucial in their success, the reports said.

Deans is the second Cantabrian planning to join a Japanese club.

Rob Penney, a former Canterbury coach, is set to leave Munster and join the NTT Shining Arcs at the end of the European season.

New Zealand rugby superstar Sonny Bill Williams briefly played for Panasonic in the 2012-2013 season.


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