Highlanders name Southland old boy as new coach

Source: 1News

The Highlanders have continued to stick to their roots with their head coaching appointments, naming Clarke Dermody to replace Tony Brown on Tuesday.

Clarke Dermody.

Dermody was unveiled on Tuesday afternoon, on a three year deal, after Brown wrapped up two years at the club.

"Clarke has served his apprenticeship with this club in every sense, firstly as a player and then as a coach," Highlanders CEO Roger Clark said.

"He understands this club and the region we represent well. He has shown he can get the best out of the people around him and we have faith in that ability to lead our club over the next few years."

Dermody, a former Southland prop and three-Test All Black, takes over from Brown who is heading back to Japan to join fellow former Highlanders coach Jamie Joseph in preparing for the Brave Blossoms' Rugby World Cup campaign next year.

The appointment comes after Dermody was originally brought into the system by Joseph back in 2014 as a scrum coach. Since then, he has also served as an assistant coach to current All Blacks assistant coach Brad Mooar at Southland and in 2018 joined Andrew Goodman as co-coach of the Tasman NPC side.

With Goodman, Dermody led the Mako to NPC Premiership titles in 2019 and 2020, and in 2021 he led the Highlanders to the Super Rugby Trans-Tasman final as stand-in head coach for Brown who had been called away for Japan’s international campaign.

Dermody said he was excited by the challenges ahead, after the Highlanders finished this season with a quarter-final exit to eventual finalist Blues.

"When I started with the Highlanders in 2014 it wasn’t with the purpose of someday being the Head Coach, I was just happy to get the opportunity to be involved with a club I have a genuine attachment with. Over the last ten years or so that attachment has only strengthened through the good times and bad," Dermody said.

"I believe in the club and the region it represents, I believe in the team and the players we have, and I believe that we can achieve success if we work hard and work smart.

"To get the opportunity to lead the team and coaching group is an honour and I am certainly looking forward to the hard work involved in putting together our 2023 season."

The Highlanders full coaching group for 2023 will be finalised within the next month.