Tonga Recruits New World Class Coaches
22 September, 2012
The Tonga Rugby Union has recruited a full coaching team for the national team 'Ikale Tahi, and the head coach Mana Otai assisted by three world-class coaches, Dave Ellis, Tim Lane and Mark Bakewell, will meet in Sydney next week to pick the best team for their upcoming tour to Europe in November.
Peter Harding the TRU's High Performance Manager said that the head coach Mana Otai will have three new assistant coaches: Tim Lane, attack coach; Dave Ellis, defence coach; and Mark Bakewell, forwards coach.
"We have the best Tongan head coach available and three world-class coaches backing him up. It's great because people see the potential in Tonga rugby and they want to join and we are very lucky," he said.
"Tim Lane is a former Assistant Coach for the Wallabies, Springboks, and Head Coach for Georgia. We have Dave Ellis, who is probably the most experienced defence coach in the world, and France's former defence coach. Mark Bakewell is a former Head Coach in France, forwards coach for English club Bath and Assistant Coach for Melbourne Rebels."
The coaches have two-year contracts, open for extension to after the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
"The 'Ikale Tahi coaching team will get together in Sydney and start thrashing out a team for the tour. Mana has been contacting many Tongan players from around the world to see who wants to play and who is available," he said.
Peter said by September 30 they would have a training squad ready and he expected an announcement of the squad by early October, before the team leaves for Europe. Tonga will play Italy in Italy, and meet USA in North Wales and Scotland in Aberdeen.
Meanwhile, the TRU are negotiating a contract to appoint CEO Jon Phelps as their new CEO.
Jon Phelps from England has over 20 years in marketing and sports sponsorship. He revitalised the sponsorship strategy at Lloyds TSB Group and is a Director of the Wales Open and Frontiers Group.
At the same time Eddie Waqa Fiji's 7's former Assistant Coach has made Tonga his home after taking up his new appointment as Director of Tonga Sevens Rugby and Head Coach for the National Sevens team.
Eddie who is assisted by Tevita Tu'ifua a former Tonga Sevens captain said, they were now focussing on preparing the Sevens team for the Gold Coast Sevens in October.
A 21-member team is currently in training camp and a final 12 is to be named in a few weeks time before they leave for the competition on October 8.
Eddie who helped steered Fiji to win the first Gold Coast 7s last year said, he is very excited to be part of the Tonga Rugby Union.
"Tonga rugby has got potential and this is an opportunity for me to help out and create a credible pathway for Sevens competition in Tonga. But Tonga Sevens needs improvement in fitness and we will be introducing a new training culture of fitness to players," he said.
Tonga qualified for the Rugby World Cup Sevens 2013 in Moscow, at the Oceania regional qualifier in August.