The Crusaders have announced that former All Blacks full-back Leon MacDonald will be one of their assistant coaches in 2017.
The Christchurch-based franchise’s chief executive Hamish Riach said he is extremely pleased with MacDonald’s appointment as assistant backs coach.
“We are thrilled to have Leon on board as we know what a fantastic coach and outstanding man he is,” he told the Crusaders’ official website.
“Leon has a long history with the Crusaders and has maintained a strong relationship with us through his involvement in the Tasman Rugby Union, so we are delighted to confirm that he has this morning signed to join us from 2017 on a two-year contract.”
MacDonald will work alongside existing assistant backs coach Brad Mooar, with an assistant forwards coach still to be appointed.
MacDonald said he is excited to be coming back to the team that he represented as a player for eleven years between 1997 and 2008 (with one year playing for the Chiefs in 1998).
“This is an exciting step forward in my coaching career and I can’t wait to be involved in Super Rugby again,” he explained.
“I have coached with Razor (Scott Robertson) for the New Zealand Under 20 team and I have a great deal of respect for him as a head coach.
“It is also awesome to be able to continue working with Tasman and I believe that this new role will put me in a strong position to continue developing talent at that Union.”
Tasman chief executive Tony Lewis confirmed that MacDonald would continue as Head Coach of Tasman in the 2017 Mitre 10 Cup.
“We are very proud of Leon and we know that he is ready for this step up to Super Rugby,” he said.
“He is an excellent coach so we are thrilled to be able to retain him as our Head Coach for next year, and we know that in his new role he will continue to pay a keen and active interest in the Tasman Rugby Union as one of the shareholders in the Crusaders.”
Incoming Crusaders head coach Scott Robertson said MacDonald was a significant appointment for the team.
“Leon and I know each other well, having played together for many years and coached together with the NZ Under 20 team,” he said.
“We already know how each other operates and we know that we can work well together, so this appointment will really help us to achieve a smooth transition to the new coaching team in 2017.
“I am hugely impressed with Leon as a coach and I know that the skills, experience and energy he will bring to the group will be of immense value to us.”
MacDonald’s contract will begin from the end of the 2016 Mitre 10 Cup.