Cooper to coach Maori team
Cooper to coach Maori teamSHARE
Taranaki and former Hurricanes mentor Colin Cooper of Ngati Pukenga has been appointed the new head coach of the Maori team that will tour North America in November.
He takes over from Highlanders boss Jamie Joseph, who stepped down earlier this year.
New Zealand Maori Rugby Board Chairman Wayne Peters announced Cooper's appointment along with former All Black Tabai Matson (Crusaders assistant coach and former Canterbury coach) as his assistant, and former All Black Carl Hoeft (Chiefs development squad coaching staff) as scrum coach.
Luke Crawford has been re-appointed as the team's kaumatua and Hurricanes team manager Tony Ward will manage the team.
Wayne Peters congratulated the management team and said the appointments marked an exciting new chapter for a very special team.
"We are delighted with Colin's appointment," Peters said.
"He has a great coaching record currently as Coach of Taranaki, but his experience includes the Hurricanes [2003-2010], the New Zealand Colts  and Junior All Blacks [2005-2009].
"As a former player himself, he well understands how important this team is for players who are wanting more opportunities to press for higher honours.
"Colin is joined by a very experienced coaching team in Tabai and Carl and they bring great experiences as former players at the highest level."
The Maori take on Canada in Toronto on November 3, and the USA Eagles in Philadelphia on November 9 on their North American tour.
"The Maori is a very special team that has a rich history spanning over 100 years in New Zealand, and it continues to be an important part of our rugby landscape."
Colin Cooper, a former Maori player himself (1982-1983) said he was humbled to be appointed to the job.
"This is pretty special for me. I am very proud of my Maori heritage, and I feel very privileged to be appointed to this job. The Maori have always been a unique team that celebrates the best of Maori and rugby.
"Personally, the Maori team has been a special part of my own playing career, one of which I am very proud.
"I want to continue the great work done by coaches before me and I am committed to ensuring that the Maori offer the All Blacks selectors more choices about the talent that is coming through the ranks.
"Over the next few months, we will focus on our options for selections, and we want to ensure players continue to have this as a valuable pathway to other honours.
"We're hugely excited about the tour to Canada and the USA, and we are looking forward to working with AIG and our other commercial partners to make this programme a great experience for everyone involved," he said.
Maori management team:
Head Coach: Colin Cooper (Taranaki)
Team manager: Tony Ward (Hurricanes)
Kaumatua: Luke Crawford
Assistant Coach: Tabai Matson (Crusaders)
Scrum Coach: Carl Hoeft (Chiefs Development)
Doctor: Zig Khouri (Waikato)
Physio: Ash Draper (Blues)
Strength & Conditioning: Wally Rifle (Blues)
Video Analyst: Jamie Hamilton (Crusaders)