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Ex-All Blacks star Matt Todd joins Canterbury coaching staff for NPC

By Sam Smith
(Photo by Kenta Harada/Getty Images)

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Former All Blacks flanker Matt Todd has been unveiled as one of four newly-appointed Canterbury coaches for this year’s NPC.

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The Canterbury Rugby Football Union announced on Tuesday that Todd will join the province’s overhauled coaching staff for the 2022 NPC campaign alongside head coach Marty Bourke and assistants Alex Robertson and Craig Dunlea.

Todd, a 25-test international who played for the All Blacks between 2013 and 2019, forms part of Canterbury’s coaching set-up as he transitions from playing in Japan, where he plies his trade for the Toshiba Brave Lupus.

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The 34-year-old featured for Toshiba as recently as a fortnight ago when the Brave Lupus were knocked out of the Japan Rugby League One semi-finals by Tokyo Suntory Sungoliath.

Todd has since returned to New Zealand as he prepares to help coach the province he represented 72 times between 2009 and 2017.

Joining Todd in Canterbury’s coaching staff is Bourke, who has been promoted to head coach after acting as an assistant under co-coaches Reuben Thorne and Mark Brown last year.

“I am honoured to be given the opportunity to lead a great group of people in this year’s NPC campaign,” Bourke said in a statement.

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“Our players and support staff are all passionate about Canterbury rugby and its success. We are extremely excited about stamping our mark and adding to the 143-year-old legacy of Canterbury rugby.

“Working with Craig, Alex and Matt is something I am looking forward to. They have all proven in their respective coaching pathways great character, a growth mindset, and a strong work ethic. They will be invaluable to our environment this year.”

Currently at the helm of Major League Rugby franchise Rugby New York, Bourke will return to Christchurch upon the completion of his commitments in the United States.

It’s in the Garden City where he’ll be accompanied by Robertson, who has worked his way from the ground up in the Canterbury coaching scene, having taken charge of clubs at grassroots level through to representative sides.

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Those teams include Canterbury Country Colts, Canterbury U19, Canterbury B and, most recently, the Crusaders U20 side.

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“I’m extremely proud of the opportunity to be able to coach Canterbury,” Robertson, who will take charge of the backs, said via a statement.

“Time spent coaching in the pathways has allowed me to contribute to the development of several players who are in the current squad, and it will be great to coach them again and help continue their development along with the rest of the squad.

“My coaching journey has shown me the meaning of playing for Canterbury and what wearing the badge means for players, families, and the community.

“To be able to contribute at a senior level is a proud moment for me and my family and I look forward to adding to the history of the badge.”

Robertson will be accompanied in his assistant role by Dunlea, who is set to take on more responsibility as a forwards coach after working as a set piece coach last year.

“I’m really excited to get an opportunity to be the assistant coach of Canterbury,” Dunlea said.

“Being involved with the scrum crew last year gave me a real insight to the expectation and responsibility the role carries, with the players, supporters, and region.”

“I’m really looking forward to engaging with Marty, Alex, and Matt, and reconnecting with the players.”

Bourke, Robertson, Dunlea and Todd take charge of Canterbury a year after they were knocked of the NPC in the Premiership semi-finals by eventual champions Waikato.

They will look to go two places better this season, which kicks-off against Manawatu in the competition-opener at Central Energy Trust Arena in Palmerston North on August 5.

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