McNamara Cup-winning coach Paul Wheeler has been confirmed as an assistant coach for the PIC Steelers for the upcoming Bunnings Warehouse NPC season.
Wheeler was one of the key architects of Bombay’s five McNamara Cup titles in six seasons from 2014-19 and is renowned for possessing an exceptional rugby brain.
In addition to a long and successful tenure coaching and playing in Counties Manukau, Wheeler has also enjoyed a successful stint coaching in Japan, where he assisted in winning two National Japan University Championships in 2017-18.
Wheeler has had a professional career in rugby starting as a Rugby Development Officer for CMRFU in 2008 and included stints with Auckland Rugby as a Regional Development Coach from 2010 and New Zealand Rugby as Secondary Schools Development Manager from 2013–2017.
More recently he has worked for New Zealand Rugby, based at CMRFU, in the coaching development space.
He forms an all-local coaching group with head coach Reon Graham and fellow assistant Jimmy Maher.
“I’m excited and humbled to have been appointed by Reon to assist the PIC Steelers in this year’s Bunnings Warehouse NPC campaign,” Wheeler said. “The direction Reon is taking this team, through his leadership and vision, creating pathways for local players and players with Counties roots, has resonated with me, as a passionate Counties rugby man and local resident.
“I look forward to working hard with Reon, the rest of the management team, the playing group and CMRFU staff in building on the momentum created in 2022.”
Graham was delighted to link with someone he has a lot of admiration for.
“I’m stoked to have Wheels on board this year,” said Graham. “We go back a fair way and I have a lot of respect for him as a coach but more importantly as a person. He is a great family man and a genuine good bugger, who is passionate about Counties Manukau Rugby on all levels and loves helping people grow and reach their potential.
“I know Wheels is going to add a lot to the group both on and off the field.”
The PIC Steelers begin their NPC campaign in August at the conclusion of the McNamara Cup.
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