The Hurricanes Poua have locked in their coaching group for Super Rugby Aupiki 2024.
The coaching set up needed to be tweaked for 2024 with regular Head Coach Victoria (Tors) Grant stepping down for the upcoming season as she will be away on maternity leave but will still have a lens over the team as Director of Rugby. She will return as Head Coach for the 2025 season.
In the interim, Ngatai Walker will step into the Head Coaching position. He will be joined by Assistant Coaches Melodie (Mel) Bosman and Emma Jensen.
Ngatai said he is thrilled to be taking up the mantle at the Poua in 2024.
“It’s a huge honour to coach the Hurricanes Poua in 2024. The Hurricanes region is my whakapapa. Some of my earliest memories of going to rugby games are with my family at Athletic Park and Sky Stadium as we have been season ticket holders with the Hurricanes from the beginning. Now, to be able to build off the foundational work that Victoria and the team have put in over the first two years of Aupiki is exciting and humbling.”
The 44-year-old brings a wealth of coaching experience to the fold, having coached the Taranaki Development side from 2014-2016; was an Assistant Coach for New Zealand Māori U18’s between 2017-2022; and was also an Assistant Coach of the New Zealand Secondary Schools side this year.
Victoria said she has full faith Ngatai, Emma and Mel will boost the Poua in the upcoming season but admits she will deeply miss her time with the team while away.
"I'm definitely going to miss our people the most and not being a part of the daily hustle and bustle of the team environment. I'm looking forward to the birth of our second child and having the space to enjoy the first few months with baby. My focus this season will then eventually shift to a bird's eye view as Director of Rugby. I am grateful that I will still be able to contribute to the growth in our team through continuing to build on the foundations that have been set over the past two years.”
2024 will be Mel Bosman’s second stint in Super Rugby Aupiki as an Assistant Coach after she took on the role withthe Blue’s Women’s team in 2022.Mel, who is an expert at the set piece, said she was excited to be part of the journey with the Poua.
“I am extremely excited! It is a fantastic opportunity for me to give back to my hometown in a game I love that has been on the rise since the 2021 Women’s Rugby World Cup.
“The Poua is young in their development so building a team around a solid foundation made up of connections, culture and hard work will be a great challenge. Being a part of establishing those strong foundations to build a champion winning side for years to come is what I hope to achieve.”
Like her counterpart, fellow Assistant Coach Emma Jensen said she is excited about the opportunity that lies ahead in her first stint in Super Rugby Aupiki.
“I can’t wait. There is already an excellent group of management onboard, and I know working with the playing group will be exciting. I am hoping to see growth within the team so that they can put their best foot forward. It’s going to be a challenge but an exciting one at that.”
Hurricanes General Manager of Rugby Tony Philp said he is thrilled with the coaching setup for 2024.
“This is an exciting step for Poua’s Super Rugby Aupiki campaign. The coaching group we have has real energy and experience about it and we believe they will guide our Poua playing group and find their potential.”
Hurricanes Poua coaches, management and support staff are well into their planning and preparations for Super Rugby Aupiki.
They will all be gathering for a connection camp in December and will return for pre-season camps in January-February, after the Christmas break.