Cape Town - The Chiefs have confirmed the appointment of Tabai Matson as an assistant coach for the 2018 and 2019 Super Rugby seasons.
On the eve of the Chiefs squad announcement, head coach Colin Cooper
has named a highly experienced coaching team to prepare his men for
their 2018 Super Rugby title hunt.
Cooper will be joined by returning
coaches Neil Barnes, Andrew Strawbridge and Carl Hoeft, with the
exciting addition of Matson completing a quintet that features a
combined 70 years of professional coaching experience.
“I’m really pleased with the coaching team we’ve assembled to lead the Chiefs in 2018 and beyond," said Cooper.
"Neil and Andrew have been a core part of the Chiefs success over the
past few years so it’s great to have that continuity and their
expertise for the club. Carl finished playing professionally in 2011, so
he’s really at the beginning of what will undoubtedly be an impressive
coaching career. As a player he was a renowned scrummager, so it’s great
to keep him in the coaching ranks with the Chiefs to continue sharing
that experience and inspiring our forwards.
"Tabai is a great coaching acquisition for the Chiefs. His experience
coaching at provincial, Super and International levels of the game will
add something special to our coaching group. It’s great to connect with
Carl and Tabs again having worked with them both with the Maori All
Blacks, and I’m really looking forward to working with Neil and Andrew.”
Matson, 44, has an astute rugby mind and an impressive rugby resume.
The midfielder made 58 appearances for Canterbury and played 25 games
for the Crusaders in the 1990s, before continuing his playing career
abroad. Born in Fiji, Matson played two Tests for Fiji at the 1999 Rugby
World Cup, a team he also assisted as an attack coach in the 2015 RWC.
He also played five matches for the All Blacks before turning his hand
Matson joined Canterbury as their assistant coach in 2009, a role he
held for three seasons before being promoted to head coach in 2012. He
led Canterbury to their fifth successive national provincial
championship title in his maiden year at the helm. In 2013 he joined the
Crusaders coaching team and was also appointed assistant coach of the
Maori All Blacks that same year, working alongside Cooper for his three
years with the national team.
In September Matson announced he was stepping down from his role as
head coach of English club Bath in order to return to New Zealand for
family reasons. His return home presented an opportunity for the Chiefs
who quickly moved to secure the expertise of Matson, with his addition
completing Coopers coaching team for 2018 and 2019.
Matson said: “Unfortunately it was illness in my family that drew me
back to New Zealand a lot sooner than I had planned. Although it was
disappointing to leave Bath, the unexpected opportunity to be involved
with the Chiefs was too good to pass up. I’ve really enjoyed working
with Colin historically and we share a lot of similar values which will
align closely with the culture of the Chiefs. I’d like to acknowledge
Bath for their support during a challenging personal time for my family
and I. It’s great to be involved in Super Rugby again and I’m really
looking forward to the journey ahead with the Chiefs.”
Experienced assistant coach Strawbridge has re-signed for a further
two seasons and will also continue his valued involvement in the Chiefs
wider high performance programmes.
“The last six years with the Chiefs Rugby Club have been an exciting
time and has been relatively successful in terms of results. With
changes in playing roster and team management for 2018, the club has a
new exciting look. It was an easy decision to commit to a new contract
and climb on board to help maintain the momentum we have developed.
Working with Colin, Tabai, Neil and Carl provides me with an opportunity
to work with very experienced coaches and I look forward to learning
from them," he said.
Current assistant coach Barnes has extended his contract for two
years and is looking forward to building on the work they’ve put in
during his time with the club.
“I’ve absolutely loved my time at the Chiefs. It’s been challenging
but very rewarding, so it was a bit of a no brainer to sign up again
when the opportunity was offered. For me, we have unfinished business,
having dropped out at the semis two years in a row. We have a large
proportion of last year’s squad back and some exciting young men to come
in, so it about getting back on the horse, working hard, and finishing
the job this coming season.”
As well as the two seasons experience as assistant coach of the
Chiefs, Barnes also spent seven years as forwards coach of the Canadian
Maple Leafs, won seven club rugby titles with New Plymouth Old Boys and
was the assistant coach for the Taranaki provincial side.
Hoeft will continue his role at the Chiefs for the fifth successive
season. The former All Black and current assistant coach of the Maori
All Blacks worked alongside Cooper with the national side from
2013-2017. Hoeft began his coaching career with Waikato Rugby after
retiring in 2011 from an impressive playing career, where he achieved 30
caps for the All Blacks and represented Otago and the Highlanders
“I am pleased to have the opportunity to continue at the Chiefs.
Working with good people throughout the organisation is what’s drawn me
to continuing working there. It will also be great working with coaches
who I respect and trust. Reconnecting with Coops and Tabai who I worked
with in the Maori All Blacks in the past will make for a smooth
transition. It's an exciting time and I’m looking forward to the
The Chiefs squad was named on November 1, with the squad commencing pre-season training at the end of November.
Chiefs 2018 Super Rugby squad:
Liam Polwart, Nathan Harris,
Samisoni Taukei’aho, Aidan Ross, Atu Moli, Kane Hames, Mitchell Graham,
Nepo Laulala, Sosefo Kautai, Brodie Retallick, Dominic Bird, Fin Hoeata,
Michael Allardice, Lachlan Boshier, Liam Messam, Luke Jacobson,
Mitchell Brown, Mitchell Karpik, Sam Cane, Taleni Seu, Tyler Ardron
Brad Weber, Jonathan Taumateine, Te
Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Damian McKenzie, Marty McKenzie, Tiaan Falcon, Alex
Nankivell, Anton Lienert-Brown, Charlie Ngatai, Johnny Fa’auli, Regan
Verney, Levi Aumua, Sam McNicol, Shaun Stevenson, Solomon Alaimalo, Toni
Pulu, Tim Nanai-Williams