Andre Bell named Wellington Lions assistant coach

Wellington assistant coach Andre Bell, right. Photosport
Wellington assistant coach Andre Bell, right. Photosport

Andre Bell will be the Wellington Lions assistant coach for the 2017 Mitre 10 Cup.

The 46-year-old will team up with Wellington head coach Chris Gibbes for the next two years, heading home to New Zealand after a successful tenure with Irish club Connacht.

After coaching overseas in Europe and Japan for the past five years, Bell said he was looking forward to returning to Wellington where he was the Lions head coach in 2011.

"I've been very fortunate to coach at some great clubs in Scotland, Italy and Japan and most recently with Connacht," Bell said. "I've learned a lot during my travels and I'm really excited about sharing that knowledge with the next generation of players in Wellington."

He joined Connacht in 2014 as former All Black Pat Lam's backs and kicking coach and was widely credited with moulding the club's backline into one the most effective in Europe as the team won the 2015-16 Pro 12 championship.

"The European competitions are highly demanding with a variety of different opponents and weather conditions, so you learn a lot about yourself as a coach."

Bell's previous stint with the Lions included three years as the assistant coach before taking the head coaching role for a season following the unexpected departure of Jamie Joseph.

His coaching career has also included an assistant role and attack coach with the Fiji national squad last June and November.

Before moving into coaching, Bell had a distinguished playing career as a first five and fullback for Otago, representing the province 43 times while he completed an education degree in Dunedin.

New Wellington Lions head coach Chris Gibbes said Bell was the perfect fit as his assistant coach.

"Andre has extensive experience as a professional coach and in particular he has some real expertise in the backs where he excelled as a player for Otago and has specialised in during his coaching career.

"Importantly Andre has also worked in the Wellington environment and has a good grasp of the local scene. That knowledge will be important as I build into a new role and a new city.

"I'm looking forward to starting our partnership together at the Lions and I know he can't wait to get stuck in too."

In addition to the Lions coaching appointments, Wellington Rugby has also announced former Wellington, Hurricanes and All Blacks lock Dion Waller will be the Wellington Development team's head coach in 2017.

Waller will be assisted by former Wellington, Hurricanes, England and British and Irish Lions representative Riki Flutey.

Zak Feaunati has been retained as the Wellington Under 19s head coach, where he will be assisted by Jamie Williams and Bernie Upton.

- NZ Herald

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