Tricker switches national body for challenge with San Diego Padres.

New Zealand Rugby's high performance manager Don Tricker is changing sports and nations after signing for a role with the San Diego Padres baseball franchise.

Tricker has played a vital role with the All Blacks since he was first involved with the team in the wake of the 2007 Rugby World Cup debacle.

His first significant involvement with the organisation came in 2008 when he was commissioned, along with lawyer Mike Heron, to investigate New Zealand's early departure from the previous year's World Cup.

The report found fault in particular with then coach Graham Henry's conditioning programme going into the tournament and a lack of leadership among the players during the quarter-final defeat by France.

Advertisement

Tricker came on board in a fulltime role at the start of 2011 and had immediate success with New Zealand ending their World Cup drought that year.

He helped oversee the 2015 World Cup triumph but was among those criticised by New Zealand's former sevens coach Sir Gordon Tietjens for the team's poor showing at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Tietjens felt he received little assistance from the union in terms of providing top players.

Tricker's new role will be a different ball game for him but baseball itself will be relatively familiar to a man who enjoyed much success with the New Zealand softball team as a player and coach.

The move by Tricker, who coached the Black Sox to two world championships and three consecutive world titles, will help facilitate the burgeoning relationship between the Padres and Baseball NZ as the sport here prepares for a significant development - entry into a new professional transtasman league.

Connections were made during the last New Zealand summer when Padres general manager AJ Preller investigated the baseball potential here and also spent time studying the winning habits of the All Blacks.

"There is a definite passion here," Preller said in an interview in January. "There is a tradition in a lot of sports - there is a ton of tradition in Olympic sports, obviously in rugby and in softball. With Steven Adams in basketball, and you see that sport growing.

"The question is whether there is a way of growing the game of baseball here. New Zealand is a country that has a track record of producing good athletes and now the question is how can we help grow the game here."

Since Preller's visit, a New Zealand franchise - presumably based in Auckland - is now poised to join the Australian Baseball League.

The Padres, the only major sports franchise to remain in San Diego following the departure of the Chargers NFL team to Los Angeles, will likely farm out their minor league players to the Kiwi franchise, while assisting the development of New Zealand's coaches and top talent by hosting them in California.

Established in 1969, their nearest rivals are the big-money Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants. The Padres have never won a World Series.

Tricker, with the All Blacks in Edinburgh as they prepare for the test against Scotland in Murrayfield tomorrow morning, didn't want to comment to the Herald on his move, saying through a New Zealand Rugby spokeswoman that he was focusing on the test and would talk once he arrived home.