The Tasman Rugby Union has appointed Gary Stevens as head coach of the Tasman B representative team, with Mike Fraser as his assistant.
Yesterday's confirmed appointment is based on Stevens' extensive New Zealand High Performance experience and intimate knowledge of the Makos' systems and strategies. Assisting Tasman coach Leon MacDonald, Stevens currently delivers the Mako systems and strategies to the high-performance player group.
His appointment is expected to provide a seamless transition for players between the Makos and Tasman B during the ITM Cup campaign, known for its high attrition rate. Both teams will be operating identically and sharing knowledge, resources and training facilities throughout their programmes.
According to the Tasman union, Stevens' extensive knowledge of the New Zealand Rugby Union's Talent ID and national selection strategies and processes makes him ideal for the development of players and coaches within this programme.
A former Nelson Bays, Manawatu and New Zealand Combined Services player, Stevens' extensive coaching portfolio includes the Nelson Bays senior team, Tasman under-20s and South Island secondary schools. He is also a New Zealand under-20 selector.
Fraser has been a Tasman B coach for the past three seasons and is reappointed as Stevens' assistant due to his ability to focus on specific areas of the game and to best complement the coaching structure.
Aaron Senior was also offered a position as coach with the Tasman B programme, but withdrew due to work and family commitments. Two further coaches have been approached in the Marlborough region to join the team as area specific coaches and as a development opportunity to grow position-specific high-performance coaches in the area.
These coaches will be confirmed in the coming weeks.
Tasman chief executive Andrew Flexman said that coach development was an ongoing concern.
"Alongside our successful player development programme, Tasman is keen to develop our committed coaches to a high standard," he said.
"We have initiated a process of identifying and assessing coaches to form a High Performance Group. The purpose of the group will be to support our player development and assist other coaches within the region."
Leith Bruning has also been appointed the Tasman under-20 head coach with his brother, Kyle, as his assistant.
Leith's appointment is due to his extensive experience and also as a reward for his success as a coach through the region's age grade rugby.
The brothers have worked together in recent years as age group coaches of Nelson Bays under-18 teams.
Their success with that team and intimate knowledge of each other's philosophy, sees them an obvious choice as a coaching group.
Marlborough Boys' College coach Gray Cornelius was offered a position as coach with this team but withdrew due to current work and family commitments