All Black legend recruited by Tahs
All Black legend recruited by TahsSHARE
All Black legend Andrew Mehrtens has joined the NSW Waratahs coaching staff as kicking coach.
Now working in Sydney, the Canterbury player who kicked his way into the record books and earned a reputation as one New Zealand's best ever flyhalves has been brought on board by head coach Michael Cheika to work with the team throughout the 2014 season.
Born in Durban in 1973, Mehrtens moved to New Zealand as a youngster, grew up in Christchurch where he followed in the footsteps of his grandfather and father, who both played for Canterbury and New Zealand.
Mehrtens debuted for the All Blacks in the 1995 season, scoring 28 points against Canada.
In 1999 Mehrtens kicked a record nine penalties in a Bledisloe Cup Test against Australia and went on to enjoy a 12-year career at first-class level.
He remains the second all-time highest points scorer for New Zealand.
Mehrtens played a key role in the Crusaders' three title wins from 1998 to 2000 and again when they won the Super 12 in 2001 and 2005.
As the NSW Waratahs prepare for their first hit out of the 2014 season against the Rebels in Albury this Saturday, the Waratahs' media manager Russell Fairfax caught up with the kicking maestro after his first session with the Tahs.
Question: Did it take some convincing to get you on board with the Waratahs?
Answer: It actually didn't, I enjoyed my time playing alongside Daryl Gibson and I've known Michael Cheika for a long time since I played against him in Italy. I like both those guys, I think they're awesome coaches and I like what they seem to be trying to doing here as well. It's just a pleasure to be involved and not working full time in rugby now, I've actually got a passion for it.
Q: What do you think the boys back in New Zealand would think of you helping the Australian teams?
A: I don't know, I think it's one of those things Australians and New Zealanders and to a certain extent South Africans do pretty well is sort of export their knowledge. Within the context of trying to put back, I'm here in Sydney at the moment and like I say have been very well received and I'm enjoying being involved in rugby on a part time basis and so, it's good fun and if I can do anything to help anyone enjoy similar experiences and a similar enjoyment to what I had in rugby then great.
Q: What do you think the reaction would be if the Waratahs got up by a penalty goal on the bell to win the Super Rugby Title over a New Zealand team?
A: I'd be chuffed for them, obviously I spent a long time at the Crusaders and I still support the Crusaders but I'm here working with these guys and as people and as rugby players I want them to get the best out of themselves. I'd be delighted if and when they do well this season.
Q: Alright Andrew, what's the key to being on target with the boot?
A: Everyone's different in goal-kicking, it's about finding out what works best for the individual, whether it's to do with how you train, or when you train, or what you're doing technically in that or just your attitude, your mentality and your attitude towards kicking. Everyone's different and it's about knowing the guys and working with them in their own context and getting them driving their own thing, driving their own training and their own kind of self evaluation and stuff like that, and enjoying themselves. At the end of the day there are some pressure moments but goal-kicking, like anything in sport, should be about going hard and enjoying it. If I can do anything to help these guys achieve that then great.
Q: Now you may not have had a lot of Australians cheering for you in the past but if you can get these boys piloting them over then you could be a hero over here in Australia as well.
A: I tell you what, if they're knocking it over regularly every week then they're the heroes and I'm happy with that. I'm just here to try and put in place a bit of structure for them and have a bit of an independent voice you know? They're used to their coaches talking to them four or five days a week so just to have someone different, hopefully that's helpful for them.
Q: Did you feel the pressure?
A: Yes, especially the closer ones. Everyone expects you to get the closer ones. Out wide or a long way out from the posts, is almost ready to excuse you because they know it's difficult, so sometimes like I say, those easier ones have the most sort of pressure on them because you know you're supposed to get them. Every time you run out there's pressure to perform and that's good, the first pressure comes from your mates around you that you want to do your best for them and for the team, so that's what these guys feel and that's part of the buzz of sport and yes, I loved it.
Q: Despite retiring you just can't get it out of your system can you?
A: Well I did for a little while; I got out of it which was nice. I'm working, my CEO in town is Phil Kearns so obviously there's a strong rugby connection there. I'm really enjoying being part of a kind of normal working life, it means that I can treat rugby sort as a hobby or a sport or a pastime and have that balance. I'm just chuffed to be back in it I've spent a few months doing not much in rugby. The French experience led to me wanting a bit of a break from it. But from what I've seen and from what I've heard, these guys are working bloody hard and you know, they're going to climb into this season so I'm looking forward to it.
Andrew Mehrtens' Records
* 281 first class games for 3,178 points, 108 games for Canterbury for 1,056 points, 87 for the Crusaders and 981 points, 72 games for the All Blacks and 967 points in 70 tests.
* All Blacks' second highest points scorer with 967 points (7t, 169c, 188p, 10dg)
* Fastest player in the world to reach 100; 200; 600; 700
* 800 and 900 points in Test matches
* 167 Test conversions – most by any player in Test rugby
* 20 or more points in a Test match scored on 13 occasions
* Twice kicked nine penalty goals in a Test match
* 209 points v South Africa – most by any international player against any country
* 202 points v Australia – second most by any international player against any country
* 108 points v Scotland – most by any international player
* 28 points v Canada – most points (at that time) by any player anywhere on international debut
* 33 points v Ireland – most by any player in a Test match against Ireland
* Passed John Kirwan's record for number of Test matches (63) by an All Black back with his appearance against England in 2002
* 1999 New Zealand Player of the Year
* Only player with more than 300 Tri-Nations points