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Cooper ready to test himself at Chiefs

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 20/12/2016 Angelo Risso

Colin Cooper has had plenty of opportunities to head overseas since leaving the Hurricanes top job in 2010.

But there was no need to, he says, because only in New Zealand can a Kiwi coach genuinely pit their wits against the best.

Cooper, 57, was announced as the future Chiefs boss on Wednesday, taking over from incumbent Dave Rennie for the 2018 Super Rugby campaign.

The current Taranaki boss will continue with his provincial outfit until the end of next year, before upping sticks and heading to Hamilton on a three-year deal.

But it was all necessary to continue his development as a coach, having already taken the Bulls to a premiership title in 2014.

He'll also relinquish his role as New Zealand Maori boss, held since 2013.

"I have had opportunities to go away, but I've decided to stay here because this is where you prove yourself," Cooper said.

"It's the country where you find out whether you're good enough."

Cooper, who oversaw the Hurricanes between 2003 and 2010, took the side to four semi-finals appearances and the infamous 2006 final in the fog.

But the Taranaki native was never able to win a maiden Super Rugby title for the franchise, despite a squad brimming with Test talent.

Cooper said his previous shot at Super Rugby may have come a little too early in his coaching career, but he now knew what it took to succeed.

The Chiefs would have to be in sync from top to bottom on vision, recruitment, team standards and administration.

"I can bring forward structure, alignment, vision, these big words are with me now, our game plans, brotherhood," Cooper said.

"That's the experience you can bring when you stay in the game."

It will now fall upon both Cooper and Rennie to develop a smooth succession plan post-2017, with Rennie heading off to Glasgow Warriors.

Cooper has already met with the current Chiefs boss, but is yet to determine precisely what role he'll have with the 2017 side.

Nor had he decided upon an assistant coach for his own tenure.

"In the camp, out of the camp, we're still working through that," Cooper said.

"The good thing is that I've got plenty of time to look at staff, to look at players, so I guess that's the beauty of naming it in 2016 for 2018."

Chief executive Andrew Flexman said Cooper's experience at provincial, franchise and Test level made him the ideal candidate.

He expected Cooper to pick up where Rennie left off with the club, after guiding them to back-to-back Super Rugby titles in 2012 and 2013.

"The fact he's a homegrown coach and passionate about nurturing young talent will continue to give us a competitive edge," Flexman said.

COLIN COOPER'S KIWI COACHING CAREER:

2013-17: Maori All Blacks

2010-17: Taranaki

2003-10: Hurricanes

2005-09: Junior All Blacks (co-coach)

2002: Crusaders (assistant)

2001: New Zealand under-21s

1999-02: Taranaki

1993-98: Taranaki (assistant, director of coaching)

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