Former All Black Matt Todd appointed to Canterbury NPC rugby team coaching staff

Former All Blacks and Crusaders flanker Matt Todd is to join a new-look Canterbury coaching staff for the 2022 national provincial championships.

Marty Bourke – an assistant with Canterbury last year – takes over as head coach, assisted by Crusaders under-20s assistants Alex Robertson and Craig Dunlea.

Todd, 34, a 25-cap- All Black, will also join the coaching staff as he transitions from playing for Toshiba Brave Lupus in Japan.

Bourke – a former attack coach for Bay of Plenty – replaces ex-All Blacks captain Reuben Thorne and Mark Brown, who were co-coaches for two years.

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Former Bay of Plenty Steamers and Canterbury assistant Marty Bourke will be Canterbury's head coach for the 2022 NPC rugby season.

Michael Bradley/Getty Images

Former Bay of Plenty Steamers and Canterbury assistant Marty Bourke will be Canterbury’s head coach for the 2022 NPC rugby season.

Canterbury has decided to revert to a single head coach and Bourke is looking forward to the challenge.

“I am honored to be given the opportunity to lead a great group of people in this year’s Bunnings NPC campaign,” he said.

“Our players and support staff are all passionate about Canterbury rugby and its success. We are extremely excited about stamping our mark and adding to the 143-year-old legacy of Canterbury Rugby.”

Todd’s playing pedigree is well known, but Bourke said Robertson and Dunlea had also “proven in their respective coaching pathways great character, a growth mindset, and a strong work ethic.” Together with Todd, they would “be invaluable to our environment this year.”

Canterbury's Chay Fihaki (L) celebrates scoring a try against Wellington with teammate Fergus Burke in 2021.

Marty Melville/Photosport

Canterbury’s Chay Fihaki (L) celebrates scoring a try against Wellington with teammate Fergus Burke in 2021.

Robertson has worked his way through the Canterbury coaching pathways, with Canterbury Country Colts, Darfield, Ellesmere, Canterbury Under-19s, Canterbury B’s and most recently the Crusaders under-20s and Lincoln University Rams.

“I’m extremely proud of the opportunity to be able to coach Canterbury,” he said.

“Time spent coaching in the pathways has allowed me to contribute to the development of several players who are in the current squad, and it will be great to coach them again and help continue their development along with the rest of the squad.

“My coaching journey has shown me the meaning of playing for Canterbury and what wearing the badge means for players, families, and the community. To be able to contribute at a senior level is a proud moment for me and my family and I look forward to adding to the history of the badge.”

Craig Dunlea, as Mid Canterbury co-coach in 2016.

Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images

Craig Dunlea, as Mid Canterbury co-coach in 2016.

Dunlea, the assistant forwards coach, was a former Otago, Southland and Mid Canterbury prop and played in Wales for the Scarlets and in England for the Exeter Chiefs. A highly regarded scrummager, the 45-year-old was a specialist set piece coach in 2021.

“I’m really excited to get an opportunity to be the assistant coach of Canterbury,” Dunlea said. “Being involved with the scrum crew last year gave me a real insight to the expectation and responsibility the role carries, with the players, supporters, and region.”

“I’m really looking forward to engaging with Marty, Alex, and Matt, and reconnecting with the players.”

Dunlea was Mid Canterbury’s co-coach for their 2017 Lochore Cup final win and works for the Christchurch rugby club as a rugby development manager.

Thorne and Brown confirmed they were standing down last December, but Canterbury Rugby Union chief executive Tony Smail has defended taking six months to make an appointment.

“It was important that we took our time, canvassing the coaching market and to have a mix of fresh IP in Marty and the opportunity to reward those guys that have put a lot of effort into our community game like Craig and Alex is particularly pleasing.

“Both Marty and Craig are highly regarded amongst our playing group and Alex has proven himself a very capable coach.”

Bourke is currently coaching Rugby New York in America’s Major League Rugby competition and will return to Christchurch once that season is completed. Rugby New York are in the MLR playoffs this weekend, with the grand final set for June 25-26.

In the meantime, Dunlea and Robertson have been keeping tabs on talent in the Canterbury Metro and Canterbury Combined Country competitions.

Matt Todd (R) with Canterbury coach Glenn Delaney in 2017.

Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images

Matt Todd (R) with Canterbury coach Glenn Delaney in 2017.

Todd has just arrived back from Japan where his Toshiba Brave Lupus –coached by former Canterbury, Crusaders and All Blacks captain Todd Blackadder, made the Japan League One semifinals.

He was named in the League One season Dream Team.

Todd made 72 appearances for Canterbury between 2009 and 2017 and was part of six championship winning squads.

The former Kaiapoi and Christchurch club backrower played 140 times for the Crusaders from 2011-2019, winning three Super Rugby titles.

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