Top rugby coach driven by new challenge

By Imran Ali

From coaching to car sales - Bryce Woodward is off-limits to provincial and Super franchises in the next few years going forward.

The former Taniwha mentor and assistant Blues' coach is the proud co-owner of Northland Toyota in central Whangarei; a decision he made after a three-month hiatus from coaching since August. He lost his job at the Blues after Pat Lam was shown the door by the Auckland Rugby Union in July.

"I am keen on rugby but there are currently no opportunities at the level I want to coach. So after the first long break from rugby, I thought what my options would be," he said.

After mulling over his future, he decided to join forces with prominent car dealer and co-owner of Northland Toyota, Mark Cromie, with the latter helping out in the initial stages of the business venture.

Woodward is no stranger to running a business, having managed Reyburn and Bryant until 2008.

On whether he would return to coaching in future, he said: "Could well be, whether it's professional or amateur rugby. If the ITM Cup goes semi-professional where you work during the day, train at night and play in the weekends, it may appeal to me."

"But I've made a commitment to this place [Northland Toyota] which means I just won't be taking up coaching on a professional level in the few years going forward," he said.

Although he's still annoyed by his dismissal from the Blues, Woodward says he will neither cry over spilt milk nor point fingers.

He's optimistic of the Blues' chances in 2013 because of the new coaching staff and a lower injury toll but doesn't see them as upsetting the apple cart.

"I'd be very surprised if they are able to make the finals, looking at the key personnel needed in positions, particularly at 10 [first five].

"You need a world-class team to win this competition and they [Blues] haven't got one," he said.

He wasn't overly delighted at the naming of lock Ali Williams as captain of the franchise, despite being full of praise for the veteran player.

"He hasn't been captain before but he's a real character, he's passionate about the Blues, he'd prod and poke ... this [being named as captain] could be the making of him," Woodward said.

He also shed some light on the problems facing Northland rugby, saying retaining players and a lack of funding would continue to be a challenge.

- Northern Advocate

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