Renowned local coach Saua Leaupepetele has been confirmed as the new head coach of the Counties Energy Heat for the upcoming Farah Palmer Cup season.
Leaupepetele is the current Director of Sport at Rosehill College and has previously been the coach of the Wesley College 1st XV, whilst coaching extensively in the Auckland secondary schools space as well, including as 1st XV coach at Tangaroa College.
He is excited to be back coaching in the region once again and is looking forward to the challenge of taking the Heat forward.
"It's like a second opportunity," he explained. "My growth as a coach started here with Wesley College and it just seems like that journey is continuing but I'm a bit more mature. It's exciting to come back to Counties and be able to serve again in a High Performance team.
"I'm just excited to be here. Excited to be back in the Counties area, I had five or six years in Auckland in the 1A competition, and the 1A competition is semi-pro in my eyes, but it's good to be back here, see familiar faces, familiar surroundings, and have an opportunity to coach again.
"New challenges, meeting new people, it's always the beauty of sport the people you meet. The challenge of working in a new space and my continued growth as a person.
"Sharing my knowledge, the good, the bad and the ugly, with a new team."
So what does he hope to achieve with the Counties Energy Heat this season?
"I'm a big believer that the ladies have to be people before they are athletes.
"Seeing development, I guess I could say development as a person myself, development of the coaches, staff and management around me and the team. If there's no development, we are not making progression."
Counties Manukau Rugby's Women's High Performance and Pathways Manager Pete Shaw is delighted to confirm Leaupepetele to the role.
"Saua has a proven track record of being able to influence environments and create strategic structural changes to rugby programs during his time coaching 1st XV rugby," Shaw said. "He is a Counties Manukau local, and has impressed with his knowledge of the current playing roster, and has been out at our local club games to spot new and existing players across the Coleman Shield competition.
"He has coached Counties Mankau Rugby sides in the past, successfully in the Jock Hobbs U19 competition, in which Counties Manukau were champions under his leadership. He is a confident and natural leader.
"Saua has been busy getting to work with our Heat players already, having some conversations and getting some feedback on a few ideas.
"We will be working together on completing the management team and certainly our eyes are focused on the remaining pre season program. This will culminate with pre season hit outs against Auckland and a three-day camp in Rotorua both in the first week of July.
"On behalf of the Counties Energy Heat, I welcome Saua onboard and look forward to him leading the team into the 2023 Bunnings Warehouse Farah Palmer Cup."
Leaupepetele started officially last week and was in the office on Wednesday meeting his new colleagues.
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