There are significant changes in store at the Bay of Plenty Steamers.

Veteran players, and former All Blacks, Mike Delany and Tanerau Latimer have retired while assistant coaches Rodney Gibbs and David Hill are moving on to other jobs.

Head coach Clayton McMillan, also the union's Director of Rugby, told the big audience at the Bay of Plenty Rugby Awards last night about the changes, and while it wasn't said at the time, there were a few suggestions around that the moves were linked.

Latimer is certainly going into coaching at club level. The five test All Black came back to his home province this year after five years overseas, but it was a season badly affected by leg injuries. In 2019 he'll coach Rangiuru in the Baywide Premiership.

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Tanerau Latimer during a training session with the Bay of Plenty Steamers this year. Photo / File
Tanerau Latimer during a training session with the Bay of Plenty Steamers this year. Photo / File

That may well dovetail into an assistant's job with the Steamers where it's been hinted he may be joined by Delany.

The veteran first five, who's recovering from an operation to repair a pectoral tear suffered in the match against North Harbour on September 16, has therefore had a rather anti-climactic end to a fine playing career which included a test for the All Blacks against Italy at the famous San Siro in Milan 9 years ago, when Latimer was one of his team mates.

So could Latimer and Delany move into the roles being vacated by Gibbs and Hill?

Assistant coach Rodney Gibbs of Bay of Plenty looks on during the round five Mitre 10 Cup match between Taranaki and Bay of Plenty. Photo / Getty Images
Assistant coach Rodney Gibbs of Bay of Plenty looks on during the round five Mitre 10 Cup match between Taranaki and Bay of Plenty. Photo / Getty Images

It's not the most outrageous of suggestions considering that both are still in their 30s, both are born and bred Bay of Plenty men who have traded their wares around the rugby world and are now back home with young families ready for the next stage of their lives.

Just exactly where Gibbs and Hill are headed is also being kept under wraps for now, but it seems Gibbs, a former Steamers mid field back, may be taking on a role in the fastest growing part of the sport – women's rugby.

Hill, who started his representative playing career in Southland before being enticed to Waikato and the Chiefs in 2001, may have a role in the All Blacks campaign for Rugby World Cup year.

The former first five eighth went on the All Blacks northern tour in 2001 and played a test off the bench against Ireland in 2006 before heading off to play in England, Japan and Australia. He's been one of McMillan's assistants at the Steamers for three years.