December 10, 2023

Trio of new assistant coaches announced for world champion Black Ferns

Mike Delany.

New Zealand Rugby has announced a trio of assistant coaches to join the world champion Black Ferns. 

Tony Christie, Steve Jackson and Mike Delany will work under Black Ferns director of rugby Allan Bunting as part of an overhauled coaching set-up.

Christie coached Matatū to the Super Rugby Aupiki title this year and has also been part of the Canterbury National Provincial Championship set-up. He will have a focus on defence and counterattack with New Zealand.

“It’s been a dream to coach at this level since I started out in grassroots rugby,” said Christie.

“There is massive potential within the Black Ferns, and I believe this team has the ability to play a style like no other.”

Forwards coach Jackson is a former Manu Samoa and North Harbour head coach, who also spent a season leading the Blues pack in 2017.

“I’m looking forward to working alongside Allan, he is an outstanding coach,” said Jackson. “The Black Ferns are a team that enjoy what they do, while their team culture and environment are really authentic.”

One-test All Black Delany brings his years of experience on the field to his role as attacking coach, where he’s most recently lent his expertise as head coach of Bay of Plenty at NPC level.

“It is always a privilege to be part of a team with a fern and I am excited  to be a part of a talented group of coaches,” said Delany.

“I am hugely grateful to Bay of Plenty Rugby, and Allan, for the opportunity to be a part of the next chapter for the Black Ferns.

They replace outgoing Whitney Hansen – who has taken up a role as head of rugby at Matatū – and Wes Clarke, who – after missing out on the head coach role to Bunting – has joined the New Zealand under 20 side for their world championship bid in South Africa in June.

Bunting said he was looking forward to working alongside a quality group of coaches.

“We are fortunate to have such an abundance of quality coaches putting their hands up to coach the Black Ferns, which is hugely exciting for our women’s game,” said Bunting.  

“The trio of coaches we have had the privilege of appointing are all committed to enhancing the Black Ferns legacy. 

“Each will assist in allowing our players to play a brand of rugby unique to the Black Ferns, through their passion, innovation, and abundance of knowledge.”

Bunting also acknowledged the work of departing assistant coaches Clarke and Hansen.

“Wes and Whitney have been great contributors to the Black Ferns success,” he added.

“Wes has been a huge part of the Black Ferns programme, his dedication to this team has been outstanding. I know he will be a huge asset to the New Zealand U20s squad… I look forward to seeing his continued success.

“Congratulations also to Whitney on her recent appointment as Matatū Head of Rugby. It is a fantastic opportunity and I know she will relish the challenge and is excited for the prospect to continue her growth as a programme leader.”

The Black Ferns will assemble early next week for their first camp since last year’s Rugby World Cup triumph on home soil.

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