Cooper, who has completed two of the three years on his contract will take next year to spend time with his family and has been in discussions over a release from his contract for several weeks.
Having led the Chiefs to successive quarter finals in 2018 and 2019, Cooper is happy with the time he spent with the franchise and believes that it is the right time to step aside.
“I believe the team and the club are bigger than the individual and the club comes first. With next year the start of a new World Cup cycle, I believe it is the right time to step aside. There is a good crew of players and staff here who are committed to carrying the club forward. Developing young players and coaches for the future of New Zealand rugby is something I’m very passionate about, and I’m proud and grateful to have been a part of that with the Chiefs,” he said.
He went on to thank the support he had over his two years with the club and confirmed that he will be spending some time with his family while away from the sport.
“The Chiefs and the Club are well supported by fans and sponsors, and I would like to thank them for making me feel welcome and at home in Hamilton. For now, my focus is to complete our season review, and then my priority is to spend time with my whanau, and moko who are continuing to grow,” he added.
Cooper admitted that while he is taking the time to be with his family, he will also be considering his future.
“The role of the head coach has evolved so much over the past five or six years. My passion is ‘hands-on’ on-the-field coaching, but with bigger playing numbers and more staff involved these days, I am getting taken further and further away from my passion. So, I will take some time out with my family and discuss our future,” he finished.
New Zealand Rugby chief executive Steve Tew was full of praise for Cooper who has been on the coaching scene for over 20 years now and hopes to see him back in the rugby circle again soon.
“Coops is a remarkable individual with great presence and mana. We know Coops to have a special talent in communicating with young men and working to bring the best out of those in his charge, and to help grow outstanding individuals on and off the field. We appreciate that he will have some decisions to make and while he will have choices in front of him, we hope his special abilities won’t be lost to New Zealand rugby,” he said.
Tew also agreed with Cooper’s timing and the way he dealt with stepping aside by allowing notice to give the club time to find a replacement.
“Next year is a post-World Cup year when there is a lot of player movement within Super Rugby and clubs are beginning the next four-year cycle. Taking that into consideration, both Colin and the Club have spoken at length over several weeks and agree that the time is right for a new coach to take the Chiefs into 2020 and beyond Being an ultimate professional and team man, Colin’s early decision was not made lightly by either him or the Club, but it has allowed us some space to recruit and plan for a smooth and successful transition,” he added.
Cooper will be a hard man to replace as he was loved by many at the club, and rugby fans will be hoping to see him back on the scene soon.
Rugby Australia Snap Up Fijian NRL Star
Rugby Australia have confirmed the signing of one of the most exciting Rugby League players on the planet
The flying-winger has put pen to paper on a two-year deal which comes into effect in 2021, which will see him join the Reds in Super Rugby and switch back to Rugby Union.
Speaking on the massive coup Rugby Australia’s director of rugby Scott Johnson is delighted that Vunivalu has signed up and is looking forward to what he can bring to the table.
“This is a very good signing for Australian Rugby and the Reds. Suliasi was a standout schoolboy rugby player. He is an elite finisher with a lot of big-game experience for a young man and will have an immediate impact for the Reds in 2021 and put himself right in the frame for higher honours. He is one player we have been looking at very closely this year with the skillset we are looking for in the outside backs. He has been working in a great environment at the Storm and has chosen a future in rugby, so it is a great result for the game,” he said.
The 24-year-old has been playing for Storm since 2016, and played in consecutive Grand Finals between 2016 and 2018, scoring a record-breaking number of tries in his first two seasons and currently having 72 tries in 94 appearances for the club.
He will hope to add to that total over his final campaign with the club, while on the international stage he has 12 tries in only eight appearances for Fiji.
It is a major boost for both the Super Rugby franchise and the Wallabies and if he can bring his league form to the union stage it could be something special.
Crusaders Star Out for Start of Season
The Crusaders have confirmed that much like the Blues and the Hurricanes that they will not have a full compliment of players come the start of the Super Rugby season due to injury
Blackadder, who has only seven appearances for the reigning champions, dislocated his shoulder during the Mitre 10 Cup this year and will require surgery to amend the problem.
Although at 24 it seems as though seven appearances is not much, Blackadder has been smashing it while in the Mitre 10 Cup and during his showings for the Crusaders, but has been up against the likes of Kieran Read, Whetu Douglas, Jordan Taufua and Tom Sanders for a place in the pack.
This season was seen as a potential breakthrough one for the versatile forward, who can line-out at blindside-flanker or No 8, and is expected to be capped by the All Blacks once he gets a run at the top level.
However, he will have to wait a little longer for his chance to shine due to the injury.
The worrying part for him is that despite Read leaving the franchise, Cullen Grace, Ethan Roots and Sione Havili have all come in and will look to impress in his absence.
The hope will be that he can get back as soon as possible to stake his claim for a starting spot. His injury is the latest announced by a New Zealand-based Super Rugby side ahead of the new season with both the Blues and the Hurricanes confirming that Bayden Wardlaw and Ardie Savea will miss the season’s opening for their respective sides.
Savea Could Return Earlier than Expected
All Black Ardie Savea confirmed that he would be out of action for the foreseeable future over the weekend, but things might not be as bad as first thought
Hurricanes chief executive Avan Lee has admitted that star forward Ardie Savea could return from injury well before his expected return date.
The All Black back-rower took to social media over the weekend to announce that he will miss up to six months of action as he prepares to undergo surgery on his knee next week to help with a cartilage injury.
That meant that fans would more than likely not see their star player for the majority of the Super Rugby season. However, Lee thinks that Savea may be back in action as early as March.
“There’s an issue with his cartilage and there is a bit of speculation about how long he will be out for, but you never really know until the surgeon has operated and seen the real extent of the issue. The prognosis at this stage is best-case scenario he’s back playing in three months, but it could be five or six months. We’re not holding to any date because some people heal well, some people have complications post-surgery, some people come back quicker than others. You’ve got to be really careful about putting a date on it,” he said while speaking to Stuff.
His beliefs seem to be based more on hope than certainty, but it would be a major boost for the Hurricanes if their key man was to be back in action earlier than first thought.
In his absence it looks likely that Gareth Evans and Du’Plessis Kirifi will battle it out for the openside-flanker starting berth and will give them a chance to show what they’ve got while Savea is out.
We will have to wait and see who takes the jersey while he’s out and with the Hurricanes opening game of the 2020 Super Rugby season against the Stormers on the 1st of February it will be a long wait.
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