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Former Sky Blues manager Kururangi to lead NPEC union

Job interviews often serve to confirm what interviewers might think — rarely will candidates admit to needing help.

But the honesty and openness of the newly appointed chief executive of the East Coast Rugby Union, LeRoy Kururangi, swung things his way.

Board chairman Val Morrison said that Kururangi's candour was a stand-alone attribute that made a huge impression.

“LeRoy's administrative acumen and familiarity with Ngati Poroutanga aside, he simply told us, ‘Look, I'm going to need some personal development and support in these areas',” Morrison said.

“LeRoy's been our rugby services manager for the past two years, he was manager of Ngati Porou East Coast last season, and he's always been straight-up with the players and the union.

“We're lucky to have someone who's already been on the ground for us — a family man with a keen sense of humour.

“He was by far the best fit.”

Kururangi was one of 26 applicants — from as far afield as Whangarei, Christchurch, Italy, France and Namibia — to take over from the Coast's sixth chief executive, Cushla Tangaere-Manuel.

LeRoy Kururangi was born in Te Puia Springs and grew up at Tikitiki in a family of 10. His father, Matehaere Kururangi, coached both Waiapu and NPEC; LeRoy was educated at Pae-o-te-Riri and Ngata Memorial College. LeRoy — loosehead prop and hooker — and three of his brothers played for NPEC.

The new chief executive said: “Since returning from Wellington, I've enjoyed reconnecting with whanau and friends. My kids are loving school and I've enjoyed working with club delegates and our age-group representative coaches.

“I want to make sure that we can provide a safe and friendly whanau environment within our rugby communities . . . 2022 will be a tough year, having to work around Covid-19 and vaccinations.

“I'm looking not to merely fill Cushla's shoes, but rather to carry on the great work that she did and to build on the foundation that has already been laid.

“The game of rugby is changing; therefore we need to change our thinking — look at our clubs, and player and coach development, and support women's rugby and junior and college rugby.

“I'll be on the ground a lot, as I was in my role as community rugby manager working with the junior advisory board and club rugby.

“I'd like to acknowledge my wife, Nicola, because without her support, I wouldn't be where I am today and a mini to my tamariki Tiaan, Braxton, Orlando and Manuhou, with a special mention to Braxton, who appointed himself my assistant manager last year and is already planning for this season.”

Outgoing chief executive Cushla Tangaere-Manuel thought highly of her hard-working successor from the outset.

“When LeRoy interviewed for the community manager role two years ago, I knew I was looking at the next chief executive of East Coast Rugby.

“He has a strong rugby mind based on years of experience as a club and representative player, and as an administrator. He was raised in a family business, has experience in securing sponsorship and has great ideas for the future.

“LeRoy was a valued member of the Stokes Valley club, is proudly Ngati Porou and has the iwi game's best interests at heart. He comes with strong whanau support, and I watch with confidence as he leads the union in a new direction.”

HANDOVER: New Ngati Porou East Coast chief executive LeRoy Kururangi and departing CEO Cushla Tangaere-Manuel at New Zealand Rugby headquarters in Wellington. Picture supplied