North Otago’s Meads Cup success this year means the goal posts have shifted for 2020, Jason Forrest says.
Forrest has been appointed as head coach again, and will be assisted by former Hurricanes hooker Shane Carter.
Barry Matthews, who has coached North Otago and South Canterbury, has been appointed as technical adviser to the team.
Last year, Forrest’s goal for North Otago was making the top four of the Heartland competition.
Now his focus has turned to defending the Meads Cup title the team won in the final against Wanganui.
‘‘Winning back-to-back Meads Cups is something North Otago has never done,’’ Forrest said.
‘‘There is probably more pressure this year than last year.’’
Last year’s co-coach Nick Anderson has accepted a coaching position with John McGlashan College.
‘‘We wish Nick all the best, we wouldn’t have got there without him, he was a big part of us last year,’’ Forrest said.
‘‘First XVs these days train five days a week — it’s a pretty high-level school down there.’’
Forrest was looking forward to working with Carter and Matthews next year.
‘‘I’m really looking forward to working with them, pretty stoked with where we’re heading around our coaching set up next year.
‘‘[Matthews] will be doing the same role, using his knowledge wherever he has the input around it all.
‘‘I’ve played under Shane when he was involved in 2007 and 2010. He is all about bringing the local boys through.’’
Forrest hoped North Otago’s success would result in more interest in rugby in the region.
‘‘I just want more kids to start playing rugby . . .if we can keep performing at the Heartland level, kids think ‘let’s stick around and have acrack at that’.
‘‘I want to keep promoting local guys through the Heartland team.
‘‘We started that this year with the Lachie Kingans and those sort of guys.
‘‘If you perform at club level, you’ll get a crack.’’
North Otago had a good relationship with Otago and the Highlanders.‘‘I’m going to be going down to the Highlanders pre-season trainings,’’ Forrest said.
The relationship meant there were pathways for North Otago players to push for higher honours — and options for players from Otago to play in the Heartland Championship as loan players, he said.
‘‘[But] there is no going in behind people’s back, it’s all open.’’
North Otago Rugby Union chief executive Colin Jackson was pleased with the strong coaching team for 2020.
‘‘We are absolutely delighted for Jason, he is a young coach.
‘‘It was a tough gig for him [this year] and he has come through with flying colours.
‘‘He’s a coach for the future in New Zealand.’’