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Meet the coaches

Leon MacDonald is in his second year as Head Coach of the Tasman Makos, having been assistant coach from 2011 ~ 2015. Leon brings huge experience to our set up on the back of a storied playing career and coaching gigs with NZ Under 20’s and the Crusaders.

Tasman U19’s finish Nationals in 6th spot
Vernon Fredericks brings up 50 Games

As Head Coach, how has the Makos coaching set up worked as a unit and individually?
We’ve had a few changes to the coaching group this year with Mark Hammett leaving and my departure to the Crusaders in the preseason period. 
Leo ‘RBF *’ Crowley and Greg ‘Yoda’ Somerville are both new to the team, Leo as lead forwards and defence team coach and Greg looking after set piece scrum and lineout.
Andrew ‘Goody’ Goodman continues with his same role around back attack and set piece attack, while I continue my role as head coach and attack coach. 
We have found our rhythm and are working really well together as a unit.
(* Resting Bitch Face)

Half way through this Mitre 10 Cup season, how well is the team travelling given your expectations at the outset?
We didn’t start the season as we hoped with two losses but the team has shown plenty of grit to beat Waikato, Wellington and Otago so it shows we can play when we get it right.
With Shane Christie’s absence and the departures of Marty Banks and Kieron Fonotia, we have quite a younger look to the leadership group. They have really taken to their task as leaders now and are doing a great job driving the team standards and expectations.

What is your background prior to joining TRU? 
I came to Tasman straight from playing retirement. I finished up in Japan and was excited about the prospect of coaching along old friend and coach Kieran ‘KK’ Keane. 

Tell us a bit about your personal life? 
I have four young children ranging in ages from 11 to 17, and a very supportive wife!!
In season, it’s tough getting a balance between work and family but they are really great. Most of my spare time is spent either in the cricket nets with the boys, watching movies with the girls, or in a coffee shop with Hayley.
I try and stay fit by playing squash or going to the gym … (only because that allows me to eat and drink what I want!!)
I’ll also play a bit of cricket in the summer when possible if the body hasn’t broken down on me.

Which rugby coaches, past and present, have most influenced your own approach to coaching and the game? 
I’ve been very lucky to have amazing coaching during my playing career. Dad coached me during my early years then KK coached me during my College years.
After my shift to Christchurch, Robbie Deans, Steve Hansen and Wayne Smith all had a big influence in my career. They’re all very different personalities but brilliant in their own way.
Although I’d like to think I have my own style, I do find myself saying some quotes from time to time that I heard as a player years ago!