2018 will be a season of new beginnings as Highlanders select Aaron Mauger as new head coach for Super Rugby.
The former Crusader and All Black has previously coached the Leicester Tigers. With a three-year deal, Mauger will be expected to deliver another Super Rugby title to the franchise in that time, and he has all the pedigree to do so.
The new signing is a result of Tony Brown’s decision to depart for a coaching role in Japan.
Highlanders Select Aaron Mauger As New Head Coach
Mauger will lead a coaching group, that includes assistant coaches Mark Hammett, Clarke Dermondy, and Jon Preston. The Highlanders are also expected to announce a new defence coach in the coming weeks.
Mauger is one of the most decorated Super Rugby players in Crusaders history; winning multiple titles with the club. Mauger also appeared for the All Blacks 46 times before heading offshore, where he would retire in 2010 after serving in the midfield for the Leicester Tigers.
NEWS | Former All Blacks mid-fielder Aaron Mauger appointed new coach of the @Highlanders.
— All Blacks (@AllBlacks) August 1, 2017
Ironically, Mauger’s coaching career began at that same club.
Highlanders Eying Better 2018 Super Rugby Season
Whilst the Highlanders might have reached the quarterfinals this year; their season was hampered by injury and inconsistent performances. Tony Brown has been a great coach, and did a solid job in the wake of Jamie Joseph; the only coach to deliver a title to the Southern franchise.
Tony Brown says Aaron Mauger's the frontrunner to take over as @Highlanders head coach. "I think he's the guy to take our team forward"
— Andrew Gourdie (@AndrewGourdie) July 23, 2017
In June, Aaron Mauger joined the Manu Samoa coaching group, in a short term role. He enjoyed that exposure, and looks to be a man who is embracing all the modern learning’s of a top-flight coach.
Mauger brings with him an understanding of the coaching role, and was a senior leader in the Crusaders and All Blacks teams he represented. Most see Mauger as the perfect fit to lead the group. Having just completed his first tenure with the Highlanders, he will be supported by fellow former teammate Mark Hammett (who had applied as well as Mauger).
Both men will now look to make plans for the Highlanders, in chasing title hopes in 2018.
Note: Scott McLeod, one of the current assistant coaches, was not considered for the position. He takes up his new role as All Blacks assistant, working alongside Wayne Smith for The Rugby Championship, before Smith departs the All Blacks set-up.
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