Trio of assistants appointed for Mitre 10 Cup campaign

Trio of assistants appointed for Mitre 10 Cup campaign

The Counties Manukau Rugby Football Union has today unveiled the team of assistant coaches who will work alongside Tai Lavea in this year’s Mitre 10 Cup campaign.

Lavea was appointed as the Counties Manukau PIC Steelers coach late last year and, following an exhaustive process, today confirmed his assistant coaching team – a group with incredibly strong ties to the region.

Retained from last year’s coaching setup is Counties Manukau stalwart Grant Henson. The former hooker, who boasts more than 100 caps for the province and was the last player to bring up that milestone back in 2011, said he was “thrilled” with the opportunity to continue his coaching career.

“Grant is a Steelers man through and through,” Lavea added.

“He bleeds for this provincial union and I can’t think of a better guy to work beside me and our other coaches in 2020 than one of Waiuku’s favourite sons.”

Joining Henson in the assistant coaching ranks are two fellow former Steelers in Dean Cummins and Mark Selwyn.

“It is awesome to be reunited with a couple of my former Steelers playing mates in Dean and Mark who will both bring great new ideas to the Steelers set up,” Henson said.

Cummins, 32, is a former Steelers first-five and joins Counties Manukau with a strong coaching resume.

The Ardmore Marist old boy worked as an assistant to former Steelers coach Milton Haig with Georgia at last year’s Rugby World Cup and will head to Pukekohe later in the year following a stint with his mentor at Suntory in Japan.

“Dean is a coach going places and to have him confirmed for this year’s Mitre 10 Cup campaign is a huge coup for our organisation,” Lavea added.

For Cummins, joining the PIC Steelers coaching ranks is a dream come true.

“It’s a true honour to be given the opportunity to come back and coach the Counties Manukau Steelers,” he said.

“After spending three years coaching in Europe, I am extremely excited to come home and coach my home union – one that I proudly played for.” 

Selwyn, a former Steelers openside flanker who hails from the Manurewa Rugby Club, is in his fourth year as an assistant coach at Auckland’s Saint Kentigern College.

The 32-year-old is also a former head coach of the Counties Manukau under-19s who won back-to-back titles at the Jock Hobbs Memorial tournament on his watch.

“Again, Mark is a guy who loves this provincial union,” Lavea added.

“He’s had some great results already in his career and will really help us deliver when it comes to the breakdown.”

The appointment of Cummins and Selwyn and the retention of Henson ensures the PIC Steelers will be coached by a group of men who know the province well.

“I am very grateful for the opportunity to be back working in Counties Manukau, a union where I have had a lot of past history and remain connected to the rugby community,” Selwyn said.

The first order of business will be this weekend’s Centurion Cup opener in which a Counties Manukau selection will square off against Waikato at Fred Jones Park in Hamilton on Saturday. Kick-off is at 4:35pm.

In addition to focusing on a strong start to his coaching tenure, Lavea said he was now on the hunt for a PIC Steelers manager.

The position will be advertised in the coming weeks.