Wed 12 Oct 2022 | 10:09

Highlanders reveal final piece in coaching puzzle

Highlanders reveal final piece in coaching puzzle
Wed 12 Oct 2022 | 10:09
Highlanders reveal final piece in coaching puzzle
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NEWS: The Highlanders have announced Otago NPC coach Tom Donnelly has been appointed as their forwards coach for two years from 2023.

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Donnelly played 65 games for the Highlanders between 2004-2011 as lock forward and 15 games for the All Blacks in 2009-10. His association with Otago began in 2002 as a fresh-faced 21-year-old going on to play 82 matches for the blue and gold before heading overseas in 2014 to play in France.

He returned in 2017 to take up an assistant coaching role under Cory Brown before taking on the head coach role in 2020. His coaching experience also includes an assistant role with the NZ Under-20 in 2021 before heading up the coaching group this year and leading the team to an Oceania championship.

Highlanders head coach Clarke Dermody has welcomed the appointment having observed Donnelly growing his coaching skills over the last several years.

“Tom was always a keen student of the line-out art as a player, technically and tactically he is excellent in that area. His experiences over the last few years with Otago and the NZ U20s has extended that knowledge base and I know Tom will grow our forwards.”

Donnelly is looking forward to taking up the challenge of coaching at the next level.

“I am extremely excited about this opportunity that the Highlanders have given me to join their coaching staff. I love representing this region and it’s a real privilege and honour to be involved with an organisation that means so much to me.

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“I’m looking forward to this new challenge at Super Rugby level and it’s a real positive that while coaching Otago I have been fortunate to have already worked with many of the Highlanders players and coaching staff. Now I just want to get stuck into the challenges that lie ahead and contribute to a successful 2023 Super Rugby campaign.”

That now completes Clarke Dermody’s 2023 coaching group, with Donnelly responsible for the line-out, kick-offs and general forward’s play, Dave Dillon will handle defence, Richard Whiffin on attack and Riki Flutey looking after skills and the backs while Chris Boyd will be the coaching mentor.

“Good to have finalised the coaching team, who I know are all very eager to get on with the job come late November when the players arrive. I am delighted with the mix of skills, innovation and experience contained within the group and excited about the possibilities of 2023,” said Dermody.

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