An experienced player and coach with an impressive track record on and off the field has been appointed to lead the coaching staff at Mahurangi Rugby Club, following Phillip Schmidt’s decision to step down after a year.
New premier coach Nick Makea played regularly for Tasman, Buller and West Coast, where he started coaching four years ago, before he and his family moved to Mangawhai in 2017. After a year coaching his son’s school side, he joined the Otamatea Hawks as premier coach, where he managed to completely turn the team around, taking them from the bottom of the division in 2019 to winning the South Zone championship in 2020.
He says that had been hard because country rugby always struggles with numbers, but his focus on fitness and team culture paid off.
“It wasn’t too bad; the last year I was there, we didn’t lose a game,” he says.
Makea is no stranger to Mahurangi rugby, having coached the sevens team in 2020 and the U14s team at Mahu College for the last two years. He was due to coach sevens again and the U21s last year, but lockdowns put paid to that.
Director of rugby Haden Kose says it is good to get someone so experienced, who lives locally, as the new premier coach.
“He has a really substantial rugby CV and he’s met a lot of the guys in our team, when he played in one of our final games last season,” he says. “That was instrumental in him saying yes. He seemed to really gel with the team culture and what we stand for.”
Makea agrees, saying a good team culture is vital for success.
“Culture is massive for me,” he says. “To create a good place where you’ve got happy people running round field just for the love of the game – that’s the best thing you can do. A good culture brings good performances.”
Makea is also a fitness trainer and runs mentoring programmes for local youth, so Mahu players can expect some good workouts this season and perhaps a new approach.
“This is a new beginning, maybe a new way of thinking. I don’t want to step on anyone’s toes, but I’ll bring the ideas I have and I might be able to bring some new energy to the team and community,” he says. “We need that to get some wins.”
However, more players are urgently needed and Makea and Kose are keen to see as many people as possible at the grounds for training, which starts on Tuesday, February 1 at 6.30pm, and runs at the same time every Tuesday and Thursday.
“As well as Nick, we’ve got Bruce Gravatt as assistant coach still and Mike Rodden back as manager,” Kose says.
“We’re really excited for the season and keen to work with local players.”
Info: Haden Kose 021 045 1186