Papakura Rugby Club’s McNamara Cup team will have new coaches in 2023 with former Steelers and Papakura player Jarrod Firth being joined by Mark Thomas at the helm of the team.
The pair take over from Kerry Petrie, who has been in the role for the past couple of seasons. Petrie will take up a different role within the club.
Firth made 25 appearances for the Steelers between 2013-2016 and played two matches for the Chiefs in 2015.
He returned from a stint playing in Europe and linked up with former Steelers player and coach Grant Henson at the Pakuranga club in Auckland, where he and Thomas coached the U21s in 2022.
“I have had a relationship with Rod [Papakura president Rod Honan] for a long time and we catch up regularly for a beer,” Firth said. “I live 400m down the road from the club.
“Just chatting to him and knowing how well I had been treated when I played there, I wanted to get involved.
“Boof [Henson] got us involved with Thommo and we coached U21 at Pakuranga. I really enjoyed it – it kinda lit the fire in me. I missed the competition part after I stopped playing and the camaraderie and everying.
“We had a bit of success – fell at the final hurdle in losing the final but it was a great experience.”
Firth knows the job of coaching a McNamara Cup side, particularly one that hasn’t enjoyed a lot of success in the past decade, will not be easy.
“It is going to be need a huge mindset change I think,” Firth said.
“Culture is a word that gets thrown around a lot these days but we need to get that right. We need to not at the wins and losses column so much.
“We need to have players that want to play here and foster an environment where that encourages players.
“We cannot accept the ‘poor us’ mentality any more.
“We want to create Steelers and Chiefs – we were a high performing club before and there is no reason we can’t do that again.”
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