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Portugal appoint ex-All Black Simon Mannix as new coach

Pau's New Zealand coach Simon Mannix looks on during the French Top 14 rugby union match between Section Paloise and ASM Clermont-Ferrand at the Hameau stadium on December 23, 2017 in Pau, southwestern France. / AFP PHOTO / IROZ GAIZKA (Photo credit should read IROZ GAIZKA/AFP via Getty Images)

Former All Black and current Biarritz director of rugby Simon Mannix will take the reins of the Portugal men’s team for the next four years, with Australia 2027 being the target for Os Lobos.

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After almost seven months of decision-making, the Portuguese rugby union made the final decision in the last couple of weeks, selecting Mannix from a five-man shortlist, opting for the New Zealander due to his impressive CV with a successful run with Pau (2014-2019) and vast knowledge of the French player system, which is seen as vital for their future.

Mannix worked previously with some of the most coveted Portuguese stars like Samuel Marques and has earned respect from the professional side of the game, winning a Pro D2 in 2015. He also worked with Racing 92 and Munster Rugby as an assistant coach.

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It isn’t Mannix’s first adventure in the Test scene, as he worked with Singapore between 2019 and 2021, exiting the Asian union due to the Covid pandemic. He made a return to France, first with Bassin d’Arcachon in the Féderale 1, then signing with the historical Basque side Biarritz in December 2023.

He will succeed Sebastien Bertrank, who only remained in the job for two weeks before resigning by mutual agreement with Portugal, leaving João Mirra as the caretaker coach while the Portuguese union worked with World Rugby to find the right successor for the role of head coach.

Mannix’s first challenge will come in July when Portugal head for Africa to play against Namibia and the reigning world champions, South Africa. It isn’t clear if the ex-All Blacks fly-half will also assume the head coach role of the Lusitanos franchise, who are to play in the upcoming Rugby Europe Super Cup.

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