The Crusaders have appointed two new assistant coaches for the 2013 season – Tabai Matson and Aaron Mauger are the new Assistant Coaches focussing on the backs and will join Todd Blackadder as the Head Coach and Dave Hewett as Assistant Forwards Coach.

A new Head Strength and Conditioning Coach has also been appointed, with Mark Drury taking on the lead physical trainer role.

Crusaders CEO Hamish Riach said that following a thorough recruitment process, the Crusaders are thrilled with the new coaching team.  

“These new appointments complete what is an exciting Crusaders team for 2013.  We believe we have the right people to give the Crusaders their best chance of success next season.

“All three new appointments were involved with the Canterbury team that took out its fifth consecutive Premiership ITM Cup title recently – Tabai as Head Coach, Aaron as Attack Coach and Mark as Head Trainer – so they will bring to the Crusaders their experiences and learnings from that successful season.  Many of the Crusaders squad were also involved in the Canterbury team so will be familiar with these coaches already, which will help to make the transition as seamless as possible,” Mr Riach said.

Tabai Matson took over as the head coach of the Canterbury ITM Cup team when Rob Penney moved to Ireland to coach Munster midway through this year.  He formerly worked as the Assistant Coach since 2009. He is a former All Blacks, Canterbury and Crusaders centre who played five games for the All Blacks in 1995-1996, played 58 times for Canterbury and earned 25 caps for the Crusaders.  Matson also played two tests for Fiji at the 1999 World Cup, played for Brive in France in 1998-2000, London Irish in 2000-2001, and Yamaha in Japan in 2001-2006.  His other coaching roles have included head coach at Yamaha, head coach with the Gold Coast Breakers, and an assistant role with the University of Queensland.

Aaron Mauger is another former Canterbury, Crusaders and All Blacks star. He debuted for Canterbury in 1999, for the Crusaders in 2000 and for the All Blacks in 2001. Throughout his entire career with the Crusaders he managed to rack up over 150 points, scoring 22 tries, an additional 10 conversions, two penalties and six drop goals. He is best remembered as a second five but at various times filled the fullback, centre and first five roles. Before taking on the Attack Coach role with Canterbury, he worked as a resource coach with the team and as their Professional Development Manager.  He has also been co-coaching High School Old Boys with old friend and teammate Reuben Thorne, leading them to the Metropolitan Trophy in their first year coaching in 2011.

Mark Drury replaces former Head Strength and Conditioning Coach Carl Jennings, who has taken up a position as head trainer to the NZ Warriors.  Drury has been the Head Trainer for the Canterbury team since 2010. He has formerly worked as Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Scottish Rugby Union National Academy; Edinburgh Rugby and the Hawkes Bay Rugby Union.

Crusaders Head Coach Todd Blackadder said the new coaching team was already into preparations for the players’ arrivals starting next week.  

“There is a real buzz of excitement around the management team and we are literally rearing to go.  The new appointments bring so much enthusiasm, positivity and valuable skills and experience with them, I am really excited about working with them over the coming season to make this Crusaders team the best it can be.  

“Bringing our coaching resource up to four dedicated coaches to allow a more specialised focus on our defence and attack play was one of the key requirements we identified in our review of the 2012 season.  With this coaching team I believe that we have the right mix of experience in the different facets of play to perfectly complement our players and bring out the best in each of them,” Blackadder said.