Mauger to coach Highlanders

Former All Blacks and Crusaders midfielder Aaron Mauger has been named as the Highlanders' new head coach.

The Dunedin-based franchise confirmed Mauger as Tony Brown's replacement at their headquarters on Tuesday morning. 

The 36-year-old has signed a three-year deal and beat out fellow Cantabrian Mark Hammett for the top job.

Mauger, who played 46 tests and 89 Super games, signed on as an assistant coach in May, about a month before long-time Highlanders assistant coach Scott McLeod was confirmed as the All Blacks' new defence coach.  

Highlanders chief executive Roger Clark last week said McLeod's departure meant the decision was a two-horse race between Mauger and former Hurricanes and Sunwolves coach Hammett. 

Mauger finished his playing career with Leicester (53 caps) in 2010, before returning home to New Zealand and assisting Canterbury's NPC team. 

He went on to work as the Crusaders' attack coach under Todd Blackadder between 2013-15, but left after the Crusaders missed the playoffs for the first time since 2011. 

He had a stint as Leicester's head coach, but was sacked in March on the back of a frustrating campaign, which saw the English Premiership giants fail to progress from the pool stages of the European Champions Cup. 

Following Jamie Joseph's and Brown's departures to Japan, next season will be the third consecutive year the Highlanders have gone into a season with a new head coach. 

Mauger will be assisted by forwards coach Hammett, performance manager Jon Preston and assistant forwards coach Clarke Dermody.

​The Highlanders are advertising for a defence coach to replace McLeod. 


Photo: HENRY BROWNE/REUTERS (Former Crusaders player and assistant caoch Aaron Mauger will coach the Highlanders next year).