Super Rugby's Coaching Carousel: Nine wise men
OPINION: Super Rugby’s coaching carousel has come to a stop for now, with nine teams – almost two-thirds of the competition – featuring a new man at the helm.
The coaching crop is full of familiar faces, all looking to take their respective teams further than their predecessors.
Let’s meet them.
In: Colin Cooper
Out: Dave Rennie
After a successful seven-year run with Taranaki in the National Provincial Cup, 58-year-old Colin Cooper returns to Super Rugby and succeeds Dave Rennie at the Chiefs.
Despite some major personnel changes to the backline, the former Hurricanes and New Zealand Maori coach still has plenty of talent at his disposal including reigning Super Rugby Player of the Year Damian McKenzie.
In: Aaron Mauger
Out: Tony Brown
45-test All Black Aaron Mauger makes his South Island return as the new coach of the Highlanders, taking over from Tony Brown.
Mauger is tasked with dethroning his old franchise, the Crusaders, as Super Rugby’s best.
The 37-year-old will no doubt be looking for a fresh start after he was overlooked by the Leicester Tigers, who he coached on an interim basis in early 2017.
In: David Wessels
Out: Tony McGahan
David Wessels joins the Rebels, moving over following the axing of the Perth-based Western Force.
The South African is credited with crafting the Brumbies defence that conceded the second-fewest points in Super Rugby in 2012.
Wessels has a big task on his hands, inheriting a team that won just once last season despite fielding 13 players with international experience.
In: Brad Thorn
Out: Nick Stiles
Arguably the world’s most successful rugby player, former All Black Brad Thorn will be hoping to find that same success from the sidelines with Queensland, who have gone through three coaches in just two seasons.
Thorn has already put the foot down and took steps towards a youth movement, letting former Wallabies Quade Cooper and Nick Frisby know that they aren’t in the team’s plans going forward.
In: Dan McKellar
Out: Stephen Larkham
Dan McKellar steps up from his role as Assistant to take charge at the Brumbies following Stephen Larkham’s departure.
McKellar will be hoping to keep the Brumbies atop the Australian conference and is already looking to change the team’s playing style to better match up against the New Zealand sides.
In: Jamie Joseph
Out: Filo Tiatia
Also in charge of the Japanese national side, Joseph becomes the third Sunwolves head coach in as many years, with Mark Hammett and Filo Tiatia lasting just one season each.
The former Highlanders coach will have some familiar faces from his 2015 title-winning team in the changing sheds, including midfielder Jason Emery, five-eighth Hayden Parker and halfback Fumiaki Tanaka.
In: Mario Ledesma
Out: Raul Perez
Former Wallabies forwards coach Mario Ledesma takes over from Raul Perez at the Jaguares for 2018.
Capped 84 times for Argentina over 15 years, legendary test hooker Ledesma should be focused on addressing the disciplinary issues that have crippled the Jaguares since their introduction in 2016.
In: Swys de Bruin
Out: Johan Ackermann
Johan Ackermann’s right-hand man since 2013, Swys de Bruin’s time to lead the Lions have finally come.
Of the new coaches, de Bruin has inherited the best team in the back-to-back finalists. The team is largely unchanged over the last two years and de Bruin will be hoping he can get the Lions over the hump and bring home some silverware at season’s end.
In: John Mitchell
Out: Nollis Marais
John Mitchell is back coaching Super Rugby after a short stint with the United States national side.
Mitchell’s coaching career, while extensive, hasn’t been filled with success. In eight seasons coaching Super Rugby with the Chiefs, Force and Lions his best finish has been the sixth place.