28 Jul 2017

Cooper stands down as NZ Maori coach

9:24 am on 28 July 2017

Maori All Blacks Head Coach Colin Cooper is stepping down to focus on his new role in charge of the Chiefs Super Rugby campaign next year.

Maori All Blacks coach 2017 Colin Cooper

Departing Maori All Black Coach, Chris Cooper Photo: Photosport

Cooper took over the reigns of the Maori All Blacks in 2013 and was in charge for 10 matches, winning all six they played against national teams.

On leaving the role he said he was disappointed to have to step down because it had given him great joy, personal satisfaction and helped him develop as a coach.

"For me personally, being part of this great group of young men has been a very special experience."

"I'm really proud of the players and management team who have all added immense value and contributed positively to the legacy of the Maori jersey," he said.

Under Cooper the Maori All Blacks had played in six countries including the United States and Canada, and hosted a historical, although disappointing, match against the British and Irish Lions last month.

Cooper also helped 10 Maori All Blacks earn selection into the All Blacks.

"I'm very proud of the fact that we have helped these players to be better people through a special environment that brings together professional rugby standards and tikanga Maori.

"We've seen many players develop professionally and culturally, and that's added an extra layer to their armour as high-performance New Zealand rugby players."

Cooper acknowledged all his management team but in particular was grateful for the wisdom and guidance from team Kaumatua Luke Crawford.

"I think my own connection with Maoridom has been deepened, but I also believe it's helped to make me a better coach, and a better leader."

Cooper said he was excited that the Maori All Blacks programme was more widely recognised as potential pathway to the All Blacks, and had evolved into a programme that professional players trusted would be good for their careers.

Cooper will coach Taranaki for the Mitre 10 Cup this year before replacing Dave Rennie as the Chiefs Head Coach.