IRANZ Staff Coaches

IRANZ Staff Coaches represent some of the most experienced and knowledgeable Coaches and former players in the game today.

IRANZ Courses provide participants an opportunity to work with these professionals in close proximity, often in 1:1 scenarios. This is part of the ‘IRANZ Formula’ to exponentially accelerate the development of players and coaches.

While IRANZ Courses will often feature ‘Specialists’ in the form of current and very recent International Coaches, below is a list of the Staff Coaches that regularly feature at IRANZ:

Christian Cullen

Wing/Fullback Position-Specific Coach

Professional roles: All Black 1996-2002 (60 Caps), Hurricanes Super Rugby 1996-2003, Munster 2003-2007.

Christian Cullen is known today as one of the most lethal running fullbacks that rugby has ever seen. With 46 tries from just 58 tests, Cullen stands as the 9th-highest try scorer in international rugby.

Dave Ellis 

Skills Coach, Halfback and First-five Position-Specific Coach  

Professional roles: Assistant Coach/Skills Coach Blues Super Rugby 2016-2018, Assistant Coach/Skills Coach Connacht Rugby Pro12, Black Ferns

Following age-grade representative rugby, Dave became a passionate Coach began specialising in skills. Dave has since coached for the Auckland Blues, Connacht Rugby, and the Black Ferns – and is now regarded as one of the best Skills Coaches in the world.

Chris Jack 

Lock Position-Specific Coach  

Professional roles: All Black 2001-2007 (67 Caps), Crusaders Super Rugby 1999-2007, UK Premiership 2007-2009

Chris Jack started his professional career in Canterbury where he became a standout for the Crusaders – his 110 Super Rugby matches included 5 Super Rugby Championships. Chris got his first start for the All Blacks in 2001, going on to play 67 Tests and is considered as one of the greatest locks in All Black history. 

George Whitelock

Flanker Position-Specific Coach

Professional roles: All Black 2009 (1 Cap), Crusaders Super Rugby 2008-2014 (86 Caps), Canterbury 2008-2014, Otago 2007

George Whitelock captained both the New Zealand U19 and U21 sides before progressing on to a very successful professional career with both Canterbury and the Crusaders, where he amassed 86 Caps. In 2009, Whitelock made an appearance off the bench against Italy, scoring a try in what would be his solitary All Blacks Cap.

Pita Alatini 

Midfield Position-Specific Coach  

Professional roles: All Blacks 1999-2001 (17 Caps), Highlanders and Hurricanes Super Rugby 1998-2003. Tonga Assistant Coach 2018

Pita Alatini played more than 80 NPC games, had 72 Super Rugby appearances and 17 Caps for the All Blacks. Pita mastered both midfield positions, with excellent offloading ability a knack for beating the first defender.

Piri Weepu

Halfback Position-Specific Coach

Professional roles: All Black 2009 (73 Caps), Hurricanes Super Rugby 2004-2011 (84 Caps), Blues Super Rugby 2012-2014, Wellington 2003-2011

While primarily known as a halfback, Weepu was also well-versed in the 10 jersey. Part of the All Black side that secured the 2011 Rugby World Cup, his professional career included 73 Caps for the All Blacks, and more than 120 Super Rugby Caps with the Hurricanes and the Blues.

Kurt Baker 

Sevens and Outside Back Position-Specific Coach  

Professional roles:  Maori All Blacks 2012-2015, All Black 7’s 2008-, Highlanders Super Rugby 2011-2015, Manawatu and Taranaki NPC 2008- 

Kurt Baker has achieved an outstanding career across both Rugby 7’s and the 15-a-side code – and still continues to add to his legacy today. Baker has 6 appearances for the Maori All Blacks and continues to add to his growing tally of All Black 7’s caps.

Andre Bell 

First-five and Outside Backs Position-Specific Coach

Professional roles: Connacht Rugby Pro12 Assistant Coach 2014-2015, Wellington Lions Assistant Coach 2017-2018, Bay of Plenty/Otago NPC (54 appearances)

Andre Bell has had a stellar career, both playing and coaching. Playing majority of his 64 NPC games in first-five, Andre specialises in this area and provides great insight into attack and tactical awareness.

Jeff Wilson

Wing/Fullback Position-Specific Coach

Professional roles: All Black 1993-2002 (72 Caps), Highlanders Super Rugby 1996-2002

Jeff Wilson is one of an elite few professional sportsman to become a so-called “Double Black” – having represented New Zealand in both rugby union and cricket. With 44 tries from 60 tests, he was no stranger to the try line and was always a danger with the ball in-hand.

Mike Brewer 

Course Facilitator & Loose Forward Position-Specific Coach

Professional roles: All Blacks 1986-1995 (32 Caps), Scotland Rugby Forwards Coach 2008-2009, Head Coach Sale Sharks 2010, Technical Advisor NSW Waratahs 2012-2013, Head Coach NTT Docomo 2018-.

Mike Brewer Played 32 Tests for the All Blacks. Following retirement Brewer has achieved in a number of coaching roles, most recently with Japanese side NTT Docomo. His outstanding knowledge around the breakdown and tackle area makes him one of IRANZ’ strongest Loose Forward Position-Specific Coaches.       

Eroni Clarke 

Midfield Position-Specific Coach

Professional roles: All Black 1992-1998 (10 Caps), Auckland NPC 1991-2002

Eroni Clarke is an Auckland Rugby legend. Playing 154 first class games for Auckland, Clarke made his All Black Debut in 1992. With his power, speed, and agility, Eroni scored over 100 first class tries and laid the blueprint for the modern Midfield player.

Wesley Clarke

Lock and Loose Forward Position-Specific Coach  

Professional roles: Black Ferns Assistant Coach, Women’s Rugby World Cup Championship 2017, Manawatu Turbos Assistant Coach & Coach Development 2011-14

Wesley Clarke has been heavily involved in both Player and Coach Development throughout New Zealand. His extensive knowledge of the professional game makes Wesley the perfect mentor for both coaches and players trying to make a career in rugby.   

Grant Doorey 

First-Five and Midfield Position-Specific Coach  

Professional roles: Assistant Coach Tonga 2017-2018, Assistant Coach Blues Super Rugby 2012-2015, Assistant Coach Japan RWC 2007 & 2011, Assistant coach Italy 2003-2005

Grant Doorey has extensive playing experience in Rugby League for both Manly-Warringah and the Keighley Cougars. Following retirement, Grant began coaching Rugby Union and soon joined with Sir John Kirwan to coach Itay, Japan, and the Auckland Blues.

DJ Forbes 

Sevens and Loose Forward Position-Specific Coach  

Professional roles: All Black 7’s 2006-2016 (512 games), Counties Manukau NPC 2008-2012

DJ Forbes will go down as one of the greatest Sevens players ever. During his 11 years in the All Blacks 7’s side, DJ amassed 512 matches, won six 7’s World Series Titles, a Commonwealth Gold, and Silver Medal, and also winning World Series Player of The Year in 2008.

Bruce Hemara

Hooker and Prop Position-Specific Coach  

Professional roles: NZ Maori 1982, All Blacks 1985. Manawatu Turbos Assistant Coach 2003-2010

Playing majority of his rugby before Front Rowers were allowed to run with the ball – Bruce is a master of all the technical skills required of front-rowers in today’s game.

Nick Leger 

Lock and Loose Forward Position-Specific Coach  

Professional roles: Player Development Manager/Academy Manager Counties Manukau Rugby Football Union 2009-2017, Coaching Staff Samoa Under 20’s

During his 8 years as the Counties Manukau Academy Manager, Nick has possesses valuable knowledge and skills in nurturing developing players – ensuring each individual reaches their potential in the game.

Glen Osborne 

Outside Back Position-Specific Coach

Professional roles: All Blacks (29 Caps), North Harbour NPC 1992-1996, Chiefs Super Rugby 1996 

Osborne made a name for himself at all levels of rugby through his evasive running style and knack for the try line. Osborne scored 17 tries in 29 appearances for the All Blacks.  

Jon Preston 

Halfback and First-five Position-Specific Coach  

Professional roles: All Black 1991-1997, Hurricanes Super Rugby 1996–1998, Wellington Lions NPC 1993-1998. Highlanders Super Rugby Assistant Coach/Skills Coach 2015-2017

Jon Preston achieved a standout playing career in rugby. A star first-five for Wellington and the Hurricanes, Jon would go on to play 27 matches for the All Blacks. Following retirement, Jon soon became the Assistant Coach for the Highlanders, and guided the team to their maiden Super Rugby Championship.

Rodney So’oialo

Number 8 and Loose Forward Position-Specific Coach  

Professional roles: Wellington Lions NPC 2000–2010, Hurricanes Super Rugby 2001–2011, All Black 2002–2009 (62 Caps). Wellington Lions Assistant Coach 2017

Rodney started his professional career at the age of 21. He went on to play 101 Super Rugby games for the Hurricanes and 62 Tests for the All Blacks, which included 5 games as Captain. Rodney is now considered a master of the ‘tackle zone.’

Filo Tiatia 

Loose Forward and Lock Position-Specific Coach  

Professional roles: Hurricanes Super Rugby 1996-2001 (57 appearances), All Blacks 2000, Toyota Verblitz 2002-2006, Ospreys 2006-2011. Sunwolves Super Rugby Head Coach 2016-2017, Japan Assistant Coach 2017, Auckland NPC Assistant Coach 2018.

Playing professionally into his 40’s, Filo Tiatia has extensive playing experience and has now coached at all levels of the game. Having played all three loose-forward positions, his knowledge in this area is unparalelled.

Ofisa Tonu’u

Halfback and First five Position-Specific Coach  

Professional roles: All Black 1996-1998 (8 Caps), Blues/Hurricanes Super Rugby 1996-1999, London Irish 2001-2003

Ofisa Junior Tonu’u possessed great playmaking ability, plying his trade in mostly halfback but also first-five. Through outstanding performances in Super Rugby, ‘JT’ earned All Black honours and 14 International matches for Samoa.