Patrick McKendry

Patrick McKendry is a rugby writer for the Herald.

Rugby: Mehrtens joins Waratahs as kicking coach

All Black legend Andrew Mehrtens has joined the NSW Waratahs coaching staff as kicking coach.
All Black legend Andrew Mehrtens has joined the NSW Waratahs coaching staff as kicking coach.

In a move which could chill the hearts of Crusaders' supporters of a certain age, Andrew Mehrtens has joined the Waratahs as kicking coach, his first foray into coaching in Super Rugby.

Now a resident of Sydney after many years playing in the south of France, Mehrtens, 40, was quick to jump at the chance to join his former All Blacks and Crusaders teammate Daryl Gibson at the Waratahs, saying he still supported his former team in Christchurch but couldn't pass up the opportunity.

"One of those things Australians and New Zealanders and, to a certain extent, South Africans, do pretty well is sort of export their knowledge,'' he said in an interview on the Waratahs website.

"Within the context of trying to put back, I'm here in Sydney at the moment ... and I'm enjoying being involved in rugby on a part-time basis and so, it's good fun and if I can do anything to help anyone enjoy similar experiences and a similar enjoyment to what I had in rugby then great.

"I enjoyed my time playing alongside Daryl Gibson and I've known [head coach] Michael Cheika for a long time since I played against him in Italy. I like both those guys, I think they're awesome coaches and I like what they seem to be trying to doing here as well. It's just a pleasure to be involved and not working full time in rugby now, I've actually got a passion for it.''

Mehrtens, a former first-five who played with vision and flair, was a record-breaking goalkicker. He played 108 games for Canterbury, scoring 1056 points, and 87 games for the Crusaders, notching 981. He played 70 tests for the All Blacks, scoring 967 points.

He was popular among Crusaders fans as much for his points scoring as for his quickness of thought and cheeky attitude. His two-finger salute to a rabid Bulls crowd at Loftus Versfeld in 1999 after scoring a match-winning injury-time dropped goal attracted as much support as it did condemnation.

Mehrtens, who played alongside all the current Crusaders coaches Todd Blackadder, Tabai Matson, Aaron Mauger and Dave Hewett, was instrumental in the red and blacks winning their consecutive titles between 1998 and 2000. He played first class rugby in New Zealand for 12 years and remains the second highest points scorer for the All Blacks behind Dan Carter.

He will work with Waratahs goalkickers Brendan McKibbin and the controversial Kurtley Beale.

- APNZ

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