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Former AB Hosea Gear enjoying the challenge on the East Coast

Former All Black Hosea Gear is back in Gisborne after living away for nearly 20 years. It's no holiday, but he's enjoying the challenge.

As coach of Ngati Porou East Coast, he brings provincial, Super Rugby and international experience to the role.

The Coast play in the Heartland Championship.

Flanker and captain Hone Haerewa thinks having Gear as coach is “awesome”.

“He brings a lot of knowledge and experience with him, and how he is as a man and how he coaches . . . the boys really connect well with him.”

Lock Richard Green likes the changes that Gear has made.

“He's got us a nutritionist to sort out our eating, which is a big thing.”

He was also committed to getting the players fit.

Gear first played organised rugby with Elgin School. Challenges for the Weka Ball were a primary school highlight.

He moved on to play for Gisborne Intermediate then Gisborne Boys' High School.

While at Boys' High, he had to decide which sport to seriously pursue — basketball or rugby.

“I played a lot of basketball growing up and my dream was to play NBA. I loved basketball so much, and I came to a crossroads — I had to choose one.”

Hosea's elder brother Rico was already a successful rugby player.

“Rico played for the All Blacks, so I guess for me that pathway was already set.”

Hosea set about building his own rugby career. Leaving school, he got a contract with North Harbour. He played in their academy team and was selected for the New Zealand under-19s.

From there he played for the North Harbour ITM Cup team and was picked up by the Hurricanes.

Gear played nine years with the Hurricanes, two years with the Highlanders and one year with the Chiefs.

He also played for the Maori All Blacks, won a Commonwealth Games gold medal with the New Zealand Sevens, played 15 games for the All Blacks and was called in to the 2011 Rugby World Cup squad before the semifinal.

In 2010 he was the Tom French Memorial Maori Player of the Year.

Asked why he had come back to the district, he said Gisborne and the Coast did not have a lot of resources, so he wanted to come back and create some pathways and opportunities, and open players' minds to what they could achieve.

Coming home hasn't been without its struggles. Hosea's fiancee and three children are in Australia and unable to travel due to the Covid restrictions.

“They were supposed to be here for the school holidays,” Gear said.

“It would be nice to have them here. That is probably the hardest part.”

At the end of this month, Ngati Porou East Coast take on Poverty Bay at Gisborne's Rugby Park.

Poverty Bay co-coach Miah Nikora and Gear grew up playing rugby together and even flatted together.

Gear said the teams were both focused on the games ahead and keeping fit, but come the end of the month the local derby would be on their minds.

“As it gets closer the pressure will start building and the banter might pick up,” Gear said.

“It will be all fun and games and a really good challenge, not only for us as coaches, but also for the boys and both unions.

“We have a long history and an ongoing relationship with each other, so it will be a good one.”

Poverty Bay play Ngati Porou East Coast at Rugby Park at 2.30pm on October 30.

Watch this story here

HAPPY WITH PROGRESS: Ngati Porou East Coast coach Hosea Gear watches his players at work. Pictures by Tori Lolohea
Hosea Gear gives a team talk to his players.