New Zealand Heartland XV coaches named
South Canterbury Coach Barry Matthews has been appointed Head Coach of New Zealand Heartland XV today, and will be assisted by Poverty Bay Head Coach, Mutu Ngarimu.
Matthews takes up his first campaign with the national team while Ngarimu returns for a second season.
The New Zealand Heartland XV squad, due to be selected from Mitre 10 Heartland Championship sides at the end of the 2016 season, will play New Zealand Marist and Australian Barbarians.
Matthews said he was excited about coaching a team that contributed so much to rugby in New Zealand.
“I love coaching at all levels of the game but Heartland rugby is very special. The standard of Heartland rugby goes from strength to strength every year and more and more players are being picked up for Mitre 10 Cup and Investec Super Rugby. It shows how much talent we have in New Zealand.
“It’s the goal of many Heartland players to make the New Zealand Heartland XV team and represent our country. I’m thrilled to be involved.”
Ngarimu is a former captain of New Zealand Heartland XV (then New Zealand Divisional XV) having played for the team from 2002 to 2005.
He has also played for the Maori All Blacks, Hawke’s Bay, Poverty Bay, Ngati Porou East Coast and was Assistant Coach for New Zealand Heartland XV in 2015.
“These Heartland guys come together from all over New Zealand from working on farms, in factories and corporate offices. Many fit their training around their jobs and families, and they aspire to train and play like professionals.
“The biggest reward for me is seeing players kick on and go on to not only be better rugby players but also better fathers and better people. Rugby can be the vehicle for that.”
The team will be managed by Tony Harrison who currently manages Mid-Canterbury.
New Zealand Rugby’s Head of Community Rugby, Brent Anderson, said the coaching team provided the skills and experience needed to lead the team and ensure they are ready for the challenge of representing New Zealand.
“There is fantastic depth of rugby talent out in the provinces, not just in players but also coaches and managers. We’re very happy with our appointments for the New Zealand Heartland XV and will follow the team with interest come November.”
The New Zealand Heartland XV play New Zealand Marist for the McCrea Cup annually. The Australian Barbarians will be selected from non-Super Rugby contracted players playing in the Buildcorp National Rugby Championship.
The tour dates and locations are to be confirmed, but all games will take place in early November.