“We are very excited to welcome Aaron Mauger as our Head Coach for next three Investec Super Rugby campaigns. He is a high calibre coach and we are stoked to share this news with Highlanders fans,” Clark said.
Mauger’s appointment locks in an impressively experienced coaching team for 2018, with Mark Hammett, Clarke Dermody, and Jon Preston all confirmed to remain with the club. Recruitment for an additional assistant coach (defence) will commence over the next month.
“It’s been no secret we have been looking for a replacement for Tony Brown since he signalled his departure for Japan.
“Having already contracted Mark and Aaron for next year, we started this Head Coach recruitment process with two very good candidates already in the fold. Both have experience at head coach level and proven leadership skills. We could see that both are going to have significant input into the direction of the team over the next few years, and Aaron’s appointment as Head Coach reflects our belief that he is best placed to lead the team’s development at this stage.
“Aaron has demonstrated to us the passion, commitment and dedication to coaching at the club that we believe are vital at this level and will lead an experienced coaching and management group,” Clark said.
Mauger is excited by the challenge: “I feel very honoured to join the Highlanders family and to lead the Highlanders as Head Coach. The club has become a consistent performer at the top of the competition in recent years and we look forward to the challenge of growing our game and achieving great things as a club.
“The Highlanders have a solid foundation of good core values and a tight knit culture. It’s a credit to all those who have worked hard to establish an environment that allows people to express themselves and thrive as individuals.
“We have a strong squad, a quality group of coaches in Mark, Clarke and Jon as well as a very passionate management team and support staff – all of whom bring massive experience and quality to their respective roles.
“I am excited at the prospect of working with this team to help further the Highlanders and grow our connections with fans across the region, and around the globe. We want to deliver a type of rugby that makes them all proud to wear our colours,” Mauger said.
New Zealand Rugby Head of Rugby Neil Sorensen welcomed Mauger’s appointment as great news for Highlanders fans, and rugby fans in general.
“The Highlanders have done a fantastic job in securing Aaron to come home. His appointment is great news for Highlanders’, and New Zealand, rugby and we look forward to seeing him step up to this role,” Sorensen said.
Mauger had a stellar career as a player appearing 89 times for the Crusaders and 46 games for the All Blacks in 2001-2007. He played three seasons for the Leicester Tigers before retiring due to back issues in 2010. Following his playing career, he had a brief stint coaching with the Crusaders before signing as Head Coach of the Leicester Tigers in 2015.