Operation 'save Southland'
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: A string of coaching changes are afoot on New Zealand's South Island - with the troublesome Southland getting special attention.
Former All Black prop, and Crusaders assistant coach, Dave Hewett has replaced Hoani Macdonald after the disastrous Southland campaign while former Southland player Ben Herring has been named Otago coach after Cory Brown's elevation to the Highlanders coaching team.
Southland's form was so bad in their last campaign that Rugby Southland officials made a public apology for their 'unacceptable' performances. Southland failed to win a game in the Championship and scored only 154 points in their 10-game campaign.
Hewett, who played 22 Tests for the All Blacks between 2001-03 and 71 games for the Crusaders between 1998-2005, was forwards coach for the Crusaders from 2010-16. He coached the New Zealand Secondary Schools team in 2014-15 and has been the New Zealand Under-20 scrum coach for their last two campaigns.
Southland assistant coach Jason Kawau remains in his role with the side while Hewett will appoint other members to his management team.
Meanwhile, Herring, a former Southland flanker, has been signed for three years with Otago. He was assistant coach in 2016 but returned from Japan where he was defence coach with the Sunwolves in Super Rugby and for the Japan Test side.
Herring said he was delighted to secure the job and couldn't wait to get started.
"It's something I have been working towards in my career. For me, I really wanted to have a total rugby experience with my coaching and learn lots of different things," he said.
Herring also played for Wellington, three times for the Highlanders and 16 times for the Hurricanes between 2003-05 then played 23 times for Leicester Tigers between 2007-09. Concussion issues forced his early retirement from playing.
He started his coaching career with Leicester working as a skills coach and contact specialist for two years. He also had stints with Nottingham and Japan side Green Rockets as assistant to head coach Greg Cooper. He also worked as an assistant coach with Canada, and their Sevens side.