FORMER Ngati Porou East Coast coach Nigel Henare is back in town after an absence of five years.
“I’d be keen to stay on for a few years as we’ve got three new grandchildren in the space of the past 15 months,” said Henare, who played 65 games for the Coast.
“Obviously I’d need to find a job but I’d be keen to get back into coaching at some level.
“I’ve been fortunate to have been involved with coaching the Thailand team, who made their first appearance at the Hong Kong Sevens tournament.
“I also did some coaching in Britain and more recently I was involved with players and coaching staff from the Rebels Super Rugby franchise.”
Henare and his wife Debbie left Gisborne in 2007 for the Tokelau Iskands to take up teaching positions.
“Our kids were up and gone so going to Tokelau was like our OE. We had spent two years there when Debbie got a job at an elite school in Khon Kaen, Thailand.
“She has basically got a job there for life if she wants it.
“I got involved coaching rugby with the local university team. It’s about the fourth biggest university in Thailand and I ended up coaching the team for two years.”
During this time, Henare went to England in July and August to do some coaching with age-group and premier-grade players.
“I also did some coaching in England with a company called Rucks and Mauls (set up by former Gisborne Boys’ High School first 15 coach Kim Harris),” Henare said.
“From there I ended up coaching the Thailand sevens team for nine months.
“We qualified for the Hong Kong Sevens — the first time Thailand had made it to the sevens there, and I caught up with Gordon Tietjens and gained some valuable coaching tips from him.”
Henare said Thailand were not expected to do well in Hong Kong.
“The players are too small and don’t have the experience of playing at this level. We had Fiji, USA and Portugal in our group and got done like a dog’s dinner . . . but the fact that we qualified and gained experience was what it was all about for us.
“I always thought I would love to go to Hong Kong to watch the sevens but never thought I would go there to coach, so that was something special for me.
“What all this coaching overseas has done for me has made me a 10-times-better coach than I was when I was here.”
Henare’s involvement with the Rebels came through his role as Thailand coach and through former Ngati Porou East Coast executive officer Anthony nelson.
“Anthony is involved with the Endeavour Hills rugby club in Melbourne and I ended up in a dual coaching position with Endeavour Hills and Scott’s College — six days a week.
“I ran coaching programmes as a skills-set coach and had Rebels players come in to assist.
“That led to my meeting members of the Rebels franchise coaching staff and I learned so much. I would have loved to stay in Mebourne doing the dual role.
“Unfortunately the finances were not there so I decided to come home to catch up with our kids and now their kids.
“Debbie has a contract in Thailand until March next year, then she will come home, unless nothing opens up here for me, in which case we would look for positions overseas again.
“I have some rugby opportunities back in Melbourne but I would love to get a job here . . . something stable to keep me here for a while. I’m loving the involvement with the kids and the grandkids.”
Henare played 65 games for the Sky Blues and represented Poverty Bay-East Coast against Scotland and Ireland.
He also coached the Ngatapa premier team and said there was still a lot of heart in the local premier games.
“There are some very good individuals with good skills here but if I was being critical I would say the fitness levels are not where they should be for this level — especially with Heartland Championship games not that far off — and perhaps there could be a little bit more structure in the teams.
“But I suppose it’s like all sports. It’s a numbers game.
“If coaches are not getting numbers to training, their hands are tied when it comes to picking the team.
“But if players want to enjoy their rugby and improve, fitness is paramount.
“I’ve been very lucky and privileged to have had an enjoyable playing career and to have travelled overeas.”